Ain’t it tweet. You could say we’re all a-Twitter about what may become the most popular way to render an opinion in the year 2017. Of course, in many ways, our soon-to-be President got a lot of mileage out of his tweets in his campaign.
According to Statistica.com, there are 317 million active monthly Twitter users as of the third quarter of 2016. That’s fewer than a third of regular monthly users of Facebook, but tweeter numbers are climbing at a prodigious rate and the so-called Trump effect, especially when he’s in the White House, may make it the most popular form of communication ever. Some look at is as a dumbing down of the English language and others see tweeting as a godsend and a more efficient way of getting your message across.
There is a talent to tweeting. You only get 140 characters to make your point. Two or three big words could pretty much exhaust your tweeting arsenal, which may be another reason Donald Trump chooses this means of communicating to the masses. It may fit his alleged fourth-grade vocabulary, which is reportedly “huge,” but it also compliments his style of striking back quickly at his tormenters in a handful of quotable words.
Some believe that being able to express yourself in such an abbreviated manner is not only an art but it makes you a better communicator by forcing you to state something succinctly. Good writers are able to simplify complex thoughts. Tweeting, by the way, is also known as microblogging. Leave it to the English language to make a big word of something that discourages their use. For example, why is the word “abbreviation” so long?
Actually, you don’t have to worry about flaunting an impressive vocabulary, exercising precise grammar or even correct spelling on Twitter. Quite the opposite, I’d say. You need to know the shortcuts, much like in texting, to distinguish yourself as an artful tweeter. Every character eats up vital space in a tweet, of course, so even short words can be shorter— such as “with” to “w/” or “write” to “RT”— and you get to use those keyboard keys that you might not use otherwise such as + or = or & or @ or #. That last one, the hashtag, formerly known as the pound sign, is another way for a tweeter to say “my topic is.”
Why is it that we are transforming written communication into briefer and briefer forums? We don’t want to write or read any more words than we have to and, if possible, we’d prefer it to be visual. That’s why YouTube and Instagram have become such forces with active users of 1 billion and 600 million, respectively.
The most popular tweets, by the way, are judged by the number of retweets and likes. Although many tweets require an interpreter to understand for some of us who are not habitués of the Twittersphere, the most popular over its10 years and 10 months of existence are pretty straightforward.
Still No. 1 is a group selfie photo of movie stars and tagline orchestrated by Ellen DeGeneres and taken by Bradley Cooper at the 2014 Academy Awards. The tweet states: If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars. It got 3.3 million retweets as of 10 months ago. The unusual thing about this tweet is that is it comprised of two complete sentences, short as they are, with real words and no characters.
The oldest but still one of the most popular with almost 950,000 retweets was a photo and the tagline “Four more years” from Nov. 6, 2012. The photo shows the Obamas hugging after their re-election victory.
As for the real Twittermeister, the man who can credit tweeting for his most quoted campaign rhetoric, his most popular one was in response to a Hillary Clinton tweet, “Delete your account.” And the No. 1 Trump tweet (drum roll): How long did it take your staff of 823 people to think that up— and where are your 33,000 emails that you deleted? The second most popular Trump tweet was in response to news reports about wife Melania lifting entire sentences of a speech given by Michelle Obama in a speech she gave at the Republican Convention: The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania’s speech than the FBI spent on Hillary’s emails.
The impact of tweets in the 2016 presidential campaign is not reflected so much in the number of the retweets and likes as it is by how the media trumpeted all the Trump tweets and shared them with even the Twitterless electorate.
If Obama mastered utilizing the internet for raising prodigious campaign contributions in 2008, Trump, in 2016, was masterful in using the social media effectively to raise his profile and views before the public on almost a daily basis.