David Briceno: Murdering on Tweet Street is sweet
August 16, 2018
"When someone attacks me, I always attack back … This has nothing to do with a tirade but rather a way of life!"
— Donald J. Trump, Nov. 11, 2012 tweet
President Trump tweets copiously. He habitually attacks others through his tweets. His venomous attacks have long mystified observers. To many people last year, Trump's attack tweets, barrage of attacks ("tweetstorms"), and off-the-wall tirades were very baffling. Why was he doing it? What was the motive behind posting them? And why was he obsessively tweeting such ill-will attacks at politicians and the media?
A Trump tweet nowadays is neither inconsequential, non-influential, nor ignorable. Twitter has enabled a president to circumvent or bypass traditionally limited media channels with anytime, unfiltered direct messages. What you see is what you get in a verbatim tweet. Both CNN and Fox News regularly relay Trump's thoughts and feelings on Twitter to their viewers. He's guaranteed an audience for whatever he has on his mind — from the very trivial to the upmost significant. As a highly effective political tool, tweets are accessible, limitless and presidentially powerful. They can also be attack vehicles.
Last year, critics not only believed Trump's slamming people was odd and non-presidential, but also megalomaniacal and childish. Many surmised his tweeting attacks were the direct result of being extremely thin-skinned, therefore being easily hurt emotionally. Their assessments missed the mark. As a rule, born-and-bred New Yorkers like Trump tend to be thick-skinned, tough-minded and possess a strong "culte du moi," which makes nearly every NYC native impervious to criticism. No. Trump hardly qualifies as the touchy feely type (except with France's Macron) or softhearted or even penetratingly vulnerable emotionally. In fact, Trump hardly cries oceans of tears when he's prominently attacked. He gets even ASAP instead. Why?
By far, the No. 1 motive for his tweeting vindictively involves revenge, retaliation, retribution. In Trump's hometown if someone attacks you, you attack them right back and more, often to defend yourself. Unofficial "tit for tat" constitutes NYC's unwritten Golden Rule. NYC's heavily-populated environment often breeds streetwise attitudes, such as "You mess with me/us and I/we will mess you up bad." The majority of hardened criminals subscribe to that attitude. So does Don man the con man.
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For Trump, highly justifiable, deeply satisfying revenge is reason for scathingly retaliating against real or imagined political and media foes (the POTUS maintains an "enemies list" for future possible retaliation). Being very reactionary by nature, retribution plays a key role in tweeting virulently. His attacking, therefore, occurs in revenge for being attacked. Since he has zero tolerance for negative criticism, he'll strike back vehemently.
And as an added bonus for payback, telling people off releases pent-up tension and aggression as well as frustration and hostility. Nevertheless, Trump's methods for politically influencing are sorta unflattering. Accusations, ad hominems, blaming, bullying, character assassinations, deceiving, exaggerating, execrating, lying, name-calling insults (James "Comey's a slimeball"), obfuscating, obscuring, propagandizing, sabotaging, sarcasm, taunting, threatening, vilifying, vindictiveness — all are used by Trump to lash out with.
Evidently, Trump has an attitude. Some have argued he has a NY attitude: a mixture of aggressiveness (or arrogance), dissatisfaction, negativity, and sly street smarts. Others maintain he simply has a bad attitude: a combination of meanness, tactlessness, and baseness. Whenever he's tweeting malevolently, his dark side emerges, which often stirs controversy.
Ronald Reagan once said, "People are not the problem; people are the solution." Remarkably inspirational words of positive thinking. However, President Trump, also Republican, would negate Reagan's statement and tweet if he were honest, "People aren't the solution; they're the (expletive) problem."
Trump's viewing people chiefly as problems leads to abusive misanthropic tweets. It means treating Twitter as a shooting gallery, making his political/media enemies targets. Make no mistake. Blood-thirsty President Donald John Trump, a notorious assassin of character, aims to maim and kill on Tweet Street.
Understandably, "Trump Republicans" wholeheartedly support the president's attack tactics politically and his troll-like tweeting behavior. But there's an imperceptible danger lurking here. Bad attitudes are spreading like wildfire today. Unimpeded, they can eventually fester into irreparably pernicious societal consequences.
Part of the solution to help avert a complete meltdown of civility amongst Americans online is simply to practice good etiquette. Prevent people from feeling threatened, bullied and demeaned by being nice on social media. And have yourself a good day.
David Briceno lives in Alta Sierra.