Long-abandoned MySpace profiles remain undisturbed in favor of 140-character tweets. Obsolete Photobucket accounts fade in the wake of skyrocketing Instagram followings. Despite the ebb and flow in popularity of different social media platforms, they remain the undeniable emerging battlefield of rising stars or infamous veterans of politics and society. On this domain an empire can be built or maintained for the fast-paced consumption of consumer or constituent. Inherent, however, to this realm, is the menace of permanence — with archived posts, screenshots and “receipts” stirring up trouble for their creators every day.
Individuals privy to these implications take care to present a united front with their social media accounts. Take former president Barack Obama, the first sitting president to have a Twitter account. His online presence was carefully calculated and proofread, so he very infrequently found himself in the headlines for how he spent his 140 characters. In fact, there is some support for the idea that Obama hardly tweeted himself, signing the rare few “-bo.”
This retrospection comes in the wake of current President Donald Trump’s tweeting style. Only the second sitting U.S. president with Twitter, he is not necessarily breaking with pattern or orthodoxy, but his execution of social media is decidedly unlike that of his predecessor. According to former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Trump’s tweets constitute official statements justified by the proposition that “the President is the President of the United States, so (his tweets are) considered official statements by the President of the United States.” Be that as it may, these particular presidential tweets suffer in a way that those of the last administration did not; they contradict, they conflict and they … covfefe.
It is a safe bet that the current administration has a team of speechwriters and PR heavyweights who carefully construct the recited appearances and released reports of our current president. It is also a safe bet that none of those failsafes exists with regard to his favored social media platform. As a copy editor, I know that typo-riddled content that needs after-the-fact correction simply could not have been reviewed by many people — in all likelihood, it was not reviewed at all. While this is not an astounding revelation to anyone, it does allow for some interesting takeaways.
Whether you find yourself in support of or feeling dismay toward Trump’s affinity for unrestrained tweets, they hold some undeniable significance. The unscripted tweets render their audience much like copy editors — anxious to unravel typos, analyzing hidden meanings and deconstructing the unofficial “official” information. This uncharted territory represents an opportunity rarely offered; to peek into the head of the leader of our country via content unfiltered and (supposedly) uncalculated. The disciplines of the speechwriter and the copy editor take a back seat and spontaneity reigns, to the chagrin of some and delight of others.