Just days before, in what now passes for a simpler time, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) wrote a lovely piece for Time about “re-committing to civility.”
“Our nation cannot continue on its current path,” he wrote. “Either we remain passive observers to the problem, or we endeavor to act, to make the necessary changes — in ourselves, in our families and in our communities — that will lead to a more civil, prosperous society.”
I started following Trump’s personal Twitter account after last year’s election. Social media, he has told Americans repeatedly, is our window into his unfiltered views, and I wanted to stay informed. But by Thursday afternoon, frankly I wanted to reattach some sort of filter. No, I’m not arguing for ignorance, but I’m walking away from a conversation I simply don’t want to be a part of.
In the wake of the president’s Thursday morning tweetstorm, The Post’s editorial board weighed in: “After his latest execrable tweets, it’s obvious that there is no point in urging President Trump to act with greater dignity, respect for his office or, for that matter, self-respect. It isn’t going to happen. That makes it all the more urgent for the rest of us to think about how to safeguard civility and democratic values until his presidency ends.”
Last night, I looked up tips to prevent cyberbullying. At SafeTeens.com, I found this: Block the bully. And, at stopbullying.gov (yes, a website run by the government that the president leads), I read about “Kids who Reinforce” bullying: “These children are not directly involved in the bullying behavior but they give the bullying an audience.” I also know that even negative reinforcement can reinforce bad behavior by giving the offender attention, even if it’s not the attention he initially wanted.
So, where does that leave someone like me? I work at The Post, and I need to follow the news. Still, I’m a bit player in Washington, not a power player; I’m not a reporter, I’m not a news editor and, if I’m honest, Trump’s tweets aren’t need-to-know information for my daily life. I also know that if the president says something great/terrible/impressive/awful/ordinary, it will get covered to the nth degree. We will all know about it within minutes.
And so, this morning, in an amazingly easy process, I chose to “unfollow” the president’s personal account. Then, I chose to follow Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Ben Sasse (Neb.), Republicans who were outspoken in their criticism of Trump’s tweets Thursday. I already followed Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), who also was quick to call out the president, and, as I told you, I followed Hatch. To round things out, I also followed Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), a Democrat known for his public civility.
Will this make a dent in Trump’s 33 million followers (wink-wink)? Nah. But it’s something I can do in the face of a tweeter who cares very much about ratings, numbers, followers.
So, if you feel as I do, drop Trump from your Twitter account. He’s still the president, and if he ever holds another news conference, I’ll definitely tune in. And I’ll read about him and watch him on TV and wish him all the best.
But the tweeting has got to go. And, if he’s going to do it anyway, well, he can do it without me.