This Twitter Cloud Lacks a Silver Lining
On using Twitter to "discuss" complex topics.
The recent article by the Washington Post about Donald Trump's recent tweets concerning Ford manufacturing jobs not going to Mexico (“Trump just took credit for stopping Ford from moving a plant to Mexico. But it wasn’t planning to.”) is a good example of how Twitter is increasingly useless as a communication channel for discussing complex topics.
According to the Post article, Trump's tweets appeared to say that he was taking credit for something that didn't happen. If you read the online comments that follow the article you'll see the usual comments about this type of "mainstream media" report. They go back-and-forth and could probably be generated automatically, for example,
“This is just another example of Trump lies.”
“This is just another example of Washington Post/mainstream media/libtard lies.”
My own take on this is pretty straightforward:
- Trump’s statements were factually inaccurate since the plant in question was not scheduled to close.
- It's impossible to tell from the two Trump tweets alone whether (a) his language was just sloppy or (b) he was choosing his words carefully in order to make a point.
Which of the above points is “true”?
Well, what is increasingly clear to me is that Twitter is just not a good platform for discussing complex issues about which people are passionate. Given the serious income disparity in the U.S. and the deep seated resentment of so many against a system that has screwed them, addressing these problems intelligently requires honest and intelligent discussion. That’s impossible in 140 characters. Hopefully our new President eventually realizes that.
Since my wife and I are from there and have family and friends in both Michigan and Ohio, I am personally very interested in how the economies of these states can be improved. Campaign slogans and misleading statements won’t make coal and obsolete manufacturing jobs come back, nor will a trade war with China that increases the cost of Walmart goods.
The sooner we get on board with these harsh realities the better. Using Twitter to sling slogans, half-truths, and threats is not helping.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Dennis D. McDonald