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Editorial: Social media lowers dialogue with elected officials

Is social media the best medium for those with authority to share information about crucial issues? This is a question concerning any person with legitimate power in our country — most notably, Donald Trump. The president-elect has remained active on Twitter since his election on Nov. 8. Even on a cursory Google search, the first suggestion is “Donald Trump Twitter.” Through this medium, Trump replies to feedback and criticism, briefly shares his stance on issues and calls out those who oppose him.

General discussion and keeping up with the public are great reasons for using Twitter and other social media platforms. However, discussing serious issues may not be appropriate on these mediums. Press releases and conferences which are professionally designed for the discussion and release of information are the best methods. These can be televised and properly reported, while Twitter is a much smaller niche with an approximated 67 million U.S. users in the late quarter of 2016, as reported by Statista. This is only about one fifth of the U.S. population. There are better mediums for sharing presidential-level information.

#BoycottHamilton is a Twitter movement in the making, backed by Trump supporters who are upset over an incident covered by Trump on his Twitter. “Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night,” Trump posted on Nov. 19, which is worded to immediately create tension and upset among followers.

The actual incident was much milder than it seems. The cast of Broadway play “Hamilton” addressed Mike Pence, who attended the show on Nov. 18. “We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir, but we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us,” said Brandon Victor Dixon, while addressing Pence.

Dixon further thanked the vice president-elect for attending the production. There was no implicit harassment — only gentle mention of valid concerns from U.S. citizens and a sense of hope. Regardless, Trump posted about the incident three separate times on Twitter. Along with the prior post, he also demanded an apology twice and suggested that the “Hamilton” cast and producers are “highly overrated.”

This issue — if it can truly be qualified as a real problem, in contrast with others — comes right in time to distract from Trump’s movement as the president-elect. He is now in the process of selecting his appointees for significant positions. There is also still movement on his lawsuits and other scandals. Rather than focusing on those, we are distracted instead about discussion of #BoycottHamilton and whether or not Pence was verbally attacked.

Though Trump gained a lot of traction in the “outsider becoming a politician” stance, it is time now for him to operate as an honest official and move into the appropriate mediums for addressing the public. Twitter is not a viable means of sharing serious information. Blowing up stories to create a cover for real issues is irresponsible and distrustful. We need to shift focus away from these hyped up situations and realize that social media is not an appropriate stand-in for the spread of political information.

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