Full disclaimer: I know this article will only be read by those on the ‘liberal left’.
The way we filter through, digest and distribute news today is inherently personalized and politicized. My followers – and those people I follow – largely come from a specific demographic segment who spends too much time on the Internet.
Trusting anyone to curate a truly unbiased social media platform seems like a tall order for our Buzzfeed-loving (or Breibart-loving) selves.
And no one can be trusted less with this task than the President himself.
The Washington Post’s analysis of Trump’s media consumptions indicates that he watches and reads outlets that dedicate significant time to covering his every move. But as his Twitter newsfeed suggests, his ego-centric approach to ingesting facts might have some far reaching implications for his foreign, domestic and internal views.
His Twitter ‘world view’ is now defined on two profiles: @realDonaldTrump, with special guest appearances on @POTUS. Breaking down what he sees on these two newsfeeds, we see that:
@POTUS is following six people: The White House account, Mrs. Pence, Dan Scavino Jr. (the social media director actually tweeting on the account), Sean Spicer, VP Pence and Melania Trump.
@realdonaldtrump is following forty one people:
Family members: Tiffany Trump, Vanessa, Lara, Melania, Eric, Ivanka, Donald Jr.
Journalists: Piers Morgan, Greta Van Susteren, Bill O’Reilly, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Eric Bolling, Geraldo Rivera, Fox & Friends, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham
Politicians/Washington Staff: Dan Scavino Jr., Michael Cohen, Katrina Pierson, Official Trump team, Mike Pence, Corey Lewandowski, Fox Nation, Sean Hannity, Drudge Report, Reince Priebus
Entertainment Celebrities: Vince McMahon, Gary Player, Mark Burnett, Katrina Campins, Diamond and Silk, Roma Downey
Trump Affiliates: Trump Golf, Trump Organization, Trump Waikiki, Trump National Doral, Trump Vegas Hotel, Trump Hotel Chicago, Trump Washington DC, Trump Los Angeles
It is no wonder Trump believes everyone loves him – pretty much everyone on his feed does. It is no wonder he can’t comprehend other perspectives – he has intentionally digitally expunged them from existence. 20% of his personal feed are profiles of businesses he built.
We know that President Trump believes Twitter is a viable news source and is known to scroll through often. But his ‘news source’ consists of A) those directly in his sphere of influence or B) those journalists and celebrities with whom he has personal connection.
In the 24 hours after the announcement of SCOTUS, his personal Twitter feed was (unsurprisingly) supportive of the selection. (It is important to point out that direct family members and Trump business-affiliated have been silent on Twitter regarding Gorsuch. Good, because we couldn’t bare another conflict of interest story right now).
Only really two “dissenting” comments in the last few days came from:
Journalist Geraldo Rivera
@GeraldoRivera: Still don’t believe @realDonaldTrump has evil or racist bone in his body. But these unforced errors must stop if he is to unite the country.
(Not so much dissent as a tactful warning)
@morningmika, who retweeting an article skeptical of Betsy DeVos from Education Secretary.
To be very clear, no one he follows has directly attacked or questioned him.
This is a dangerous precedent when we realize that our President gives celebrity status to 140 character lines on a perfectly curated profile page. When slightly different ideas are denied existence in our own built realities, we break trust and create skepticism where healthy debate can and should live.
But if we can create our own digital realities now, don’t we have the power to change the narrative?
Let the President’s Twitter profile be a lesson to us all. If Trump so claims to ‘speak for Americans’ and plans to ‘make America great again,’ why doesn’t he try learning from everyday Americans through his media intake. His current skewed news feed gives him no context into on-the-ground efforts of working class Americans or businesses.
Regardless of your political leanings, do not fall into this trap. Take steps to reclaim your digital world. Create a more comprehensive and holistic digital lens through which to view the world.
Begin by following local. As the axiom tells us, local politics most impacts your daily life and is where you can make significant change. Tap into the messages being sent out by your City Council members and School Board administers. If they aren’t active, press them to update their constituents. You deserve to find easily accessible, easily digestible content from your locally elected officials.
Then start seeking out different opinions. Don’t just scoff off the other side as “WRONG,” but try to understand their arguments, frustrations and point of view. If nothing else, it gives you greater context into what ideas are dividing the current political spheres.
Take a lesson from his narrow view of the world. Let this be our wake up call that narrowing our understanding of the world is not what we need survive the Post-Truth Era.