Donald Trump Saved Twitter

If there is one good thing to come out of Donald Trump becoming our president, it’s the fact he may have singlehandedly saved Twitter.

According to Variety, Twitter blew away Wall Street expectations in Q1, netting nine million new monthly users in the quarter, which was it’s biggest gain in two years.

Coincidentally, this timeline represents Trump’s first three months in office.

While the article doesn’t explicitly list the reasons for this accomplishment, I think part of the reason for the bump in users is that many people view Twitter as a virtual water cooler where they can assemble with like-minded people and discuss how disgusted they are with the current president.

Couple that with the fact many journalists use Twitter as a repository for their stories and story outtakes that paint Trump in a negative light, and you start to see why Twitter is thriving right now.

More people are signing up to use the service because Twitter is where the conversation is taking place, and many people (including myself) feel it’s too important of a conversation to not participate. Yeah, my anxiety levels are a bit higher when I spend too much time on Twitter, but I can’t look away. And, it seems, neither can the millions of new users.

The rush to stay informed is driven by one man who has never wavered in his approach to using Twitter. No one or no country is safe from his verbal attacks.

Do you want to get a sense for what is really going on in the president’s mind? Go read his tweets.

For a man who thrives on positive coverage, he has figured out the quickest way to making the news is to circumvent the news altogether, and nobody can look away.

How’s that for ratings?

Ignoring The Elephant In The Room Has Consequences

My friends and I have one topic that is off-limits in our group texts: politics.

We are free to talk about literally anything else (and believe me, we do) except the current state of the country.

This rule has never been laid out as a prerequisite to participate in group chats, but it exists unsaid to discourage discussion that can lead to words and phrases that good friends should never say to each other.

In short: We put it in place to retain our friendships.

Occasionally, I will push the envelope by bringing up a benign topic with a hint of politics. The latest example is when President Trump declined to throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener. I thought it was a nice segue into something greater, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to push the envelope. I know from experience it never ends well if we get serious. Even if potentially embarrassing pictures of the Commander in Chief exist, we’ll have a good laugh and move on to something else; something less important than the culture we will one day relinquish to our kids.

And you know what? I was fine with this unwritten rule in the days immediately after the election. Some of us were still reeling. Others were celebrating. There was no middle ground. It was necessary to refrain while the wounds were still raw. But over time, that enormous, unavoidable elephant in the room began to loom larger. Every time I talked about something unimportant (in the grand scheme of things) I couldn’t help but wonder if I was delaying an important discussion around what really matters.

As we are now nearly 100 days into the Trump Administration, one thing is clear: I am not going to change anyone’s mind through discussion, let alone text messaging. People who I disagree with won’t listen to other viewpoints. They are stuck in their ways. This type of thinking makes it harder to maintain relationships, especially now.

At the same time, I want to remain sympathetic to what spurs my friends to make the decisions they make. I want to understand their hopes and fears. That’s what friends do. But we can’t do that when certain topics remain off-limits because we are afraid of the outcome. Isn’t that sometimes the whole point of having difficult conversations?

It’s ironic that a rule put in place between friends to keep the status quo might end up being the one thing that drives us apart.

We can’t enrich relationships if we’re avoiding what really matters.

We must take the time to really listen what our loved ones have to say. It’s the only way we will overcome.

 

Stupidity Is Ruling The Day

After last week’s meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping, Donald Trump claimed that Korea was once a part of China.

He really said that.

And, it’s certifiably false.

Trump saying that would be like me saying Michigan was once a part of Africa.

There is absolutely no truth behind it.

Yet, a lot of people in this country are, maybe not willing to back up the president’s false claims, but are okay with him making these falsities because they don’t see the danger. They fail to see how a person in power telling constant lies is a bad thing if that person claims he is bringing back jobs.

They hear him talk, then roll their eyes and laugh it off, like they would if their son or daughter said something inappropriate in front of mommy or daddy’s boss.

There are far worse things to happen than our president tweeting rumor and innuendo, they think. But what they fail to realize is that it starts at the top.

Our country, in its best times, mimics the way our leaders carry themselves. Once upon a time, that meant grace and common sense ruled the day, even if there were occasional missteps. Everyone could expect, at the very least, our president would come off as capable.

But in 2017, every expectation has been thrown out the window, even the one that demands truth.

Patience Must Become A Virtue

I’m not here to bash Twitter.

I think it’s one of the most useful social media channels we have at our disposal, at the very least from the standpoint of being able to engage with people you wouldn’t normally be able to otherwise.

When it comes to that ability, Twitter is hard to beat. Where else can you ask one of your favorite authors about the topic of their next book and (usually) get a response?

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Twitter. That’s where.

But just like everything that is great, there’s always something to hate about that thing you love, and Twitter is definitely not immune to hatred.

After the 2016 presidential election, that thing (that I hate) was on full display, and it continues to this day.

I’m talking about a lack of restraint when it comes to outrage.

Here are some of the headlines that have been shared recently by my Twitter community:

White House to Propose Massive Cuts to EPA Budget

Justice Department tells all remaining Obama administration U.S. attorneys to resign

Taken at face value, these headlines are alarming.

Slashing the EPA’s budget would mean bad news for the environment and be three steps backward from where we have come as a civilization.

And a mass firing of U.S. attorneys is cause to sit up and take notice, especially in light of everything else happening in this current political climate.

But if you are sharing these headlines, you owe it to everyone to reign in your outrage.

The proposed budget is exactly that: a proposal.

An incoming administration firing U.S. attorneys is not unusual.

All of us operate under a pre-existing narrative, and we are in a rush to share anything that fits within that storyline, without taking a few moments to really think how we are impacting those around us.

There will come a time when complete and utter outrage is necessary, but that time is not when budgets are proposed. Maybe when they are approved and final.

A poet once coined the phrase “patience is a virtue.”

Those are words we must all follow in tumultuous times.

The Time For Doing Is Here

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Forty four dollars and ninety five cents.

That’s how much it costs me to host this blog for three months.

Since it’s an automatic deduction, I pay this amount with my credit card and never think twice about it until an e-mail reminder lands in my inbox. And when it does, I’m reminded of just how little I blog.

Today is Saturday, March 11.

The last time I published a post was January 24. Before that it was January 14.

Before that? January 8.

Three posts in one month would be considered a slog for most bloggers, but it’s downright prolific for me.

I say that fully aware of how embarrassing it is for someone who considers himself a “writer” to admit. If my calculations are correct, it cost me $15 to write each post. One would think I have so much money to burn that I can afford to let this blog languish without new content, but it’s started to get at me lately.

I make a living writing for clients, but I so rarely sit down and write for myself. And in this day and age, where everyone has something to say, what am I waiting for?

It’s gotten to the point where it’s time to put up or shut up. Either I start blogging in earnest, or it’s time to shut it down.

Forty five dollars would pay for a round of golf at a semi-decent course. It would be better to spend my money chasing around a little white ball than it would chasing the dream of being a writer.

But like golf, practice makes perfect.

Or something like that.