Before 2017, a president taking to Twitter to taunt a nuclear power would’ve been unthinkable. But Tuesday, Donald Trump, whose bygone impulsiveness contributed to two failed marriages and the bankruptcies of numerous businesses, engaged in a geopolitical boasting contest with North Korea, sacrificing the benefits of considered diplomacy to satiate his impulsiveness and need for attention:
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
This may be the most irresponsible tweet in history. Julian Sanchez articulated the best-case scenario: “The good news is, other countries won’t take talk like this too seriously because they understand Trump is a small man who blusters to make himself feel potent. That’s also the bad news; there’s nowhere left to go rhetorically when we need to signal that we’re serious.” Most likely, that’s the fallout.
But what if this needless social-media saber rattling escalates into war?
The Gimlet Media host P.J. Vogt asks a key question: “Imagine if you were the person who invented Twitter.” If I were that person, I would ban President Trump immediately.
And I would ban all other world leaders, too.
By now these truths are self-evident:
- Twitter was designed to lower barriers to communication and encourage impulsive, off-the-cuff comments—and at that the platform has been wildly successful.
- Twitter routinely stokes needless conflict.
- Countless people who use Twitter routinely publish words that are ill-considered.