Our president is baited into petty argument by an actress, sitting on a gold toilet bowl shouting accusations of elitism on Twitter. He is mass-producing Twitter trash.
He’s addicted to the adulation it provides him; the instantaneous gratification of likes and re-tweets. He has tanked stock prices and even triggered talks of a pending trade war using the medium to blast his opponents and anyone who doesn’t share his world view, or simply praise him as a god.
While Trump remains the best example of infantile word vomit on Twitter, the trash on Twitter doesn’t stop with him. In fact, most of us are guilty of saying things on the medium we would certainly never say in person.
Twitter is all real-time. There is no edit button. It is a live-wire, where what you blast out in 140 characters or less is what stays in its original form unless deleted. As things move quickly, as your feelings build, the urge to just spit something out is all too tempting. Twitter is often our subconscious made conscious, and that can be a dangerous thing.
“What is wrong with you, calling people assholes?” I could practically hear him shouting at me from thousands of miles away across the Atlantic.
I was upset that after months, I still hadn’t heard from him regarding my latest spec effort. It was a second chance from him, to try again with another script. It was a script he explicitly told me to write, and told me to send to him. After months had gone by, he started to drop hints that I wasn’t going to hear anything. Most notably this hint was conveyed via a New York Times article about Louis C.K. discussing the dreaded “no by way of silence.” I tweeted a generic remark about the way people in the industry play games, including the word asshole. It wasn’t directly aimed at him, but he and I both know what the catalyst for the tweet was: him.
What followed was a difficult and painful DM conversation that lasted over an hour. I like to think that it ended on a good note. But if there is one thing I could point to as reason for him to never hire me in any capacity, it is that tweet. He is a very patient man who has given me a lot of opportunity, and has even read my posts as recently as last Fall. He is most certainly NOT an asshole. When I re-read that DM encounter, I know I cannot ever expect to hear from him ever again.
Impulsivity. That’s what it really comes down to. It is all too easy to just blast something into cyber space without thinking about the way people will react to it. I’d never call him an asshole to his face, or even complain to him in any way – I was then and remain today nothing but grateful to him and his time.
Yet on Twitter, it is too easy to complain. It’s too easy to let your emotions be worn on your sleeve. It is cathartic to just get whatever is bothering you off your chest, but some things are better left unsaid. I was hurt and unfamiliar with the industry etiquette of rejection at the time and made a stupid mistake I will probably regret the rest of my life.
Trump I imagine, in all his narcissism, is almost certainly not thinking about the way he comes across. That is not only a danger to him personally, it is a national security threat as well — a danger to us all.
The difference is whether you choose to admit your mistakes. Trump has never once apologized for his remarks on Twitter. I don’t think I have ever stopped apologizing to Paris in hopes of being forgiven. I am so so so eternally sorry.
With several years industry experience under my belt since that conversation, as well as personal growth and maturity with age – I look back on my trash tweets at 23, 24 with great embarrassment. I’m not sure Trump has any such remorse.
There are no do-overs. There is no edit button. Instead of tweeting it out, save it as draft and review it in a few hours, or even days. Outside your emotional state at the time of writing, is it still appropriate to post? Probably not. Delete it as a draft, not as a public tweet.
Twitter trash is toxic. Don’t be an asshole. Pass it along.