In the United States in 2016, it seems whomever is loudest has the voice heard by the most people.
That may help explain the recent political success of President-elect Donald Trump. It also explains why the most recent Trump portrayal on Saturday Night Live by actor Alec Baldwin will be shared millions of times on social media.
Trump’s supporters seem to like his Twitter tirades.
To his critics, however, many of Trump’s tweets aren’t presidential or they are a diversion he uses to draw attention away from other things he may be doing that are even worse.
Like most things in life, I’d guess the truth is somewhere in the middle.
I started thinking about Trump and Twitter as I listened over the weekend to On Being with Krista Tippet on public radio. She did an interview with Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest, writer and editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America. Martin made the point that all of the Beatitudes, blessings listed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3–11, meet the 140-character limit of a tweet on Twitter.
And that made me stop and imagine how Jesus might use Twitter if He came back to walk among us with his face focused on an iPhone. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems unlikely His would be the loudest voice or that His sacred tweets would be the angriest in the Twittersphere.
It makes me wish the president-elect would follow His example. Twitter isn’t the problem. The president-elect’s fondness for Twitter isn’t really a problem either.
But as he prepares to assume the most important job in the world, it would be good for Mr. Trump to remember the Beatitudes. His doesn’t always have to be the loudest voice. And responding to your critics via social media with the first thought to rumble through your head almost always makes you look bad.
That’s a lesson it took me a long time to learn back in my days as a newspaper editor. I’m not convinced the president-elect has learned it yet or, at his age, he ever will.
But as Jesus could have tweeted: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Mr. Trump never will be called meek. A bit of humility, however, and a thicker skin would do him a world of good.