If there is one thing that could save social media, it’s candor.
I don’t mean the kind where we admit things to each other or take off the gloves and say what we really think. Instead, social media could thrive if it became a place where we can find unfiltered, unedited and honest opinions without as much gatekeeping.
One example of this is a post on Truth Social today by former President Donald Trump, where he unleashes a firestorm (in all caps, no less) about what he insists will be his imminent arrest. The full context of the post is a bit hard to parse because it doesn’t make a lot of sense (and was partially debunked), but here’s the basic idea:
“THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
I’m using the word candor here a bit optimistically. Social media has not been a place of honest reflection and interaction. It’s one giant flame war most of the time. And I would not say this post by Trump is enlightening or helpful.
I do think the post is an example of how a lack of gatekeeping does provide some legitimately stunning information that comes direct from the source. The word candor is tied closely to the word “candid” which means openness.
Of course, the internet was lighting up over this news, with Google Trends showing how the simple search word “trump” was off the charts most of today. Keep in mind this announcement took place on a closed network where Trump has only about five million followers.
In the Truth Social post, Trump elaborated a bit more about a claimed leak from the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The post deserves a detailed breakdown of exactly how it is going to ignite his base. (By the way, there are some 10,000 comments so far and about 60,000 likes.)
First, Trump knows this will make headlines all weekend. He knows it will enrapture the news channels and make headlines. He also knows it will draw attention to Truth Social. One reason it works so well as a way to stir up his followers is that the post introduces some serious alarm. If you’re a Trump supporter, reading that your fearless leader might be “wrongfully” accused of a crime and arrested doesn’t sound good. It’s a motivator and mobilizer like almost no other in recent political news.
It’s also Trump’s chance to sway public opinion about what he calls an inevitable arrest. He chose words that will get people riled up, saying he “will be” arrested on Tuesday. If it’s as likely as he suggests, Trump might be trying to gain sympathy with those who voted for him.
The candor is remarkable, though. Trump is speaking directly to his base on Truth Social, but he’s also revealing a turn of events that would dominate the news cycle for weeks and months to come. If New York officials actually do arrest Trump, it would become a media circus once again.
And then there’s the call to protest. It’s truly amazing to consider that Trump is calling for protests about his arrest in light of what happened last time his followers took action in a bold way.
I’m not exactly sure how this will all turn out, or if anyone will protest. I do know that the unfiltered nature of this all caps post shows the true power of social media. At least we know what he really thinks is going to happen.