Since the election in November, we have read articles on how to navigate the ‘era of Trump’ and resist his regressive vision for the United States. And we will resist this emergence of misogyny, racism, elitism, and intolerance. Every day I look at my Twitter feed and see tweets from people and organizations I follow who have replied to, commented on, or embedded images of Trump’s tweets, but I don’t ‘follow’ Trump myself. Even those who don’t follow him can witness the self-promoting, narcissistic, and inelegant nature his tweets convey, in addition to the lack of tact and dignity they represent. Folks, he is who he is. He will not stop tweeting, likely not even as President. It feeds his ego. How does one deal with an individual with narcissistic tendencies of this magnitude? As citizens we need to be aware of the acts and statements of our elected officials – ALL of them, federal, state, and local. How can we send the next U.S. President a clear message that we will not tolerate his behavior and we will hold him accountable? *[According to an NBC news story published hours after this blog entry posted, Trump intends to keep his personal twitter handle, which raises questions about legal requirements to save presidential communications.]
Twitter has a list feature, and anyone can make a list, or a plethora of lists: public or private. I keep my lists private (I have only a handful of Twitter followers and most of those I think I know personally). How do we stop feeding the narcissistic beast that will take the oath of the office of President this week?
Stop following him on Twitter. Stop stroking his fucking ego.
Update: Feb. 4, 2017 This does not mean that we should ignore him. We must hold him accountable and ALL of his absurd, whining, narcissistic tweets should be considered in that accountability. We don’t have to follow him to read his tweets.
Stop following him on all social media. Make the message loud and clear. Stop following him. Mr. Trump has 20 million followers on Twitter. Twenty million! Isn’t that a cult-like following? What a stroke to his ego. I suspect that a great number of those followers do not follow him because they have ‘drunk the Kool-Aid’ or because they admire him; they ‘follow’ him because of his celebrity status and how he now has political influence on a global scale. On Friday, he will take the oath of office as President of the United States, and we will have an individual who cares not for the citizens of the US; he cares only for himself and how this office will bolster his importance, influence, and wealth. In my lifetime, I never would have believed that such a person could achieve the Presidency. Well, that ship has sunk. His sophomoric behavior is only the iceberg tip.
Having worked with high school sophomores for the past twenty years, I have learned a lot from my students. One of the most consistent lessons is that when we give attention to negative behavior, students who need attention will continue to behave in a negative fashion. The way to counter that is to give students attention for positive behavior only. It is not easy at times. Some students crave attention so deeply that any attention will do, whether negative or positive. The goal is to focus on and reward positive behaviors in order to encourage more positive behavior. It can take weeks, months, or years, depending on the needs of the student. Unfortunately, we must educate our next President. Trump is our number one student, and we have the task of teaching him what behavior we will tolerate. It should not be our job, and I am saddened to say that it is. Yes, I am aware that his is a 70-year-old man who is not likely to change his behavior. As citizens, we should not need to model the behavior we expect for our elected representatives, but now we must show the world that we do not approve of his petulant antics. AND – others are watching us.
Our neighbors, our children, our students, and the nations of the world are watching to see if our nation “of the people” will emerge from Trump’s presidency as a citizenry more tolerant of one another’s beliefs and dedicated to democracy and cooperation or as a citizenry of whipped individuals feeding on one another’s fears and doomed to a fate of subjugation and prostration.
How we respond to this presidency will be judged by the world and by history. Don’t follow Trump. Add him to a list. News agencies and journalists follow him because they are part of the free press and it is part of their job to follow him on social media. However, private citizens don’t need to follow him; we can just add him to a list – public or private. I created a private list on Twitter and gave it the title ‘Wackos,’ and as tempted as I was, I didn’t put Trump on that list (Westboro Baptist Church is on that list). I added him to a list I titled ‘Politics.’ To label him and place him on a list, public or private, is a small act of resistance, but perhaps it is an important one. If we do not feed the beast, it will shrink and lose some of its power. Don’t even pretend to drink the Kool-Aid because even indirect contact with poison can be lethal.
Another benefit of placing Trump and those like him on a list rather than following them is to keep our Twitter feed positive, showing our interests and passions, such as music, science, the humanities, and pictures of cats. I keep a ‘Political’ list to stay informed and be aware of what my elected representatives say and do, and more importantly, how they vote. As Jim Wright, a writer whom I admire repeats frequently in his blog Stonekettle Station, staying informed and speaking out “matters because if you want a better nation, then you have to be better citizens.”
I want a better nation. I want a better President than Trump. I plan to stay informed, to be aware of his conflicts of interest, his poorly planned agenda, his lack of diplomacy or tact. I will do what I can to make him as well as ALL elected officials accountable.
But I refuse to feed the beast.