Forget Trump’s tweets

Our Donnie has boasted about how effective his tweeting is at communicating with a huge audience, simply because the mass media so diligently report his tweets, massively magnifying his communicative reach. “I can go bing bing bing…and they put it on and as soon as I tweet it out – this morning on television, Fox – ‘Donald Trump, we have breaking news’. This at the same time that he derides as ‘fake’ and ‘dishonest’ anything other than glowing praise, following the pattern he set while he as a mere billionaire – well, millionaire, definitely.

Trump, despite excoriating the ‘mainstream media’ (MSM to the Trumpian faithful) as corrupt, vicious  liars, actually depends on them, heavily, and they feed the beast. He’s always depended on the media, without them he’d be just an average real estate developer.

But perhaps this one addiction the MSM should give up on.

Why not just ignore his tweets? Why not just get bored with them? This would have the benefit of restricting his half-baked idiocies to the twitter-sphere, and seriously, what would be lost? It’s all bluster and bullshit anyway, what matters is what he actually does, not what random thoughts he tweets at 3am. Basically, why do we care?

So what are the barriers to forgetting Trump’s tweets, and forcing him…. Let’s see what keeps media outlets from reporting his tweets.

One, the possibility that one is missing out on something important, that knowing about his tweets and reporting on it keeps one ahead of the curve. But this is to misunderstand the world of politics and government. There’s an enormous distance between whatever thought comes into this man’s mind to leak out into twitter, and any concrete policy change. It’d be much more sensible to treat the tweets as wholly provisional and wait until there’s some sort of confirmation from some other source or part of government that the idea has got any legs to it. Lots of seeds never germinate, why not leave his tweets where they belong, under the ground?

Two, the chance that his twitter followers constitute a whole parallel universe of communication and ideas that isn’t being reported. Well, news flash, that’s happening already, so really, who cares?

Three, competition. Because they exert a fatal fascination, the outlet that does report them is bound to get lots more readers and clicks than the ones that don’t. I have to admit that I’m as guilty of this as anyone, and I’ve worked out that it’s driven by hope, a yearning for the possibility of schadenfreude – maybe this next tweet will the one that finally brings him undone, that not even Paul Ryan can stomach, that brings about a popular revolution or at least an impeachment process. It’s a vain hope, I know, and the more one gives in to it, the more Trump wins the game, but it’s hard to switch it off.

Really, then, possibly the most important force driving the Trumpenstein is the dynamics of competition among media outlets, that what he leverages so effectively, and he’s proud of that, of how well he understands how the media works, exploiting their needs and structural weaknesses, his whole career has been built on it.

At first glance it’s a hopeless fantasy to imagine that enough of the mass media might collaborate to freeze him out, find other things to talk about. It’s certainly especially hard as his inauguration is coming up. But if their readerships get bored with the Tweeter-in-chief, if we’d all rather read about something more interesting, then that eliminates the motivation to keep playing his game, which is what we’re doing even as we attack him – all publicity is good publicity.

Let’s start a movement, then: Forget Trump, #forgettrump, straight after the inauguration, give attention and thought only to what he does, not what he tweets.

So, today I’m going to unfollow Trump and any twitter feed directly connected to the 45th President of the United States. Shit will happen, but following it on twitter won’t make any difference.