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GARY SMITH: In support of boring

Tweets shouldn’t push meltdown; maybe ice cream? by Gary Smith | January 29, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

I read a tweet from the president of the United States the other day. The current one, not his immediate predecessor. And I was pleasantly, thankfully, gratefully ... bored

OK, maybe not "bored." Just not enraged or inflamed or annoyed or really concerned about the lack of spelling acumen (and I'm a magnificently bad speller) or any of the emotions I and a lot of the country have been feeling, good or bad, over the last four years.

Not to say those emotions may not have been completely justified, given your worldview or the events that led to the tweets. I'm not judging the feelings, just the fact that, there were always, repeatedly, just so many feels.

I'm not even sure I remember exactly what the tweet dealt with. Which, when it comes to tweets from public officials, may actually be a compliment. It definitely wasn't a call to arms, also something that has literally happened lately, to everyone's chagrin.

It was more of a "we're all in this together, none of us is as smart as all of us, you can't spell 'American' without 'me' (both inspirationally and grammatically correct), etc.," kind of thing. Best remembered more for a general attitude than the particular substance. And, again, memorable in that all the words were spelled correctly and were the appropriate ones.

In short, I'm fine if presidential tweets are, basically, dull.

The thing is, elected officials, particularly presidents of the United States, tend to be paternal or maternal figures for most of us. So we either feel like they're our mom or dad or, as actual moms and dads, feel that we can relate to the message. I mean, yeah, I've got to tell the kids to be nice to each other, wash their hands, wear a mask and not invade the national Capitol all the time myself, so ... I understand.

With that in mind, presidential tweets are like text messages dads would (and in my case, do) send to their kids. Nice, hopefully inspirational, potentially uplifting and informative (at least to me) and, not sent too early in the morning, because you want to let them sleep. But not too late because, hey, you're burning daylight here. The rest of the world is already up there, Buttercup, and the worm may already have been got.

The general tone should be, "I love you, I'm proud of you and I just wanted you to know that. Also, call your mother and thank her for the brownies. They're really good, she went to a lot of trouble and what, you think elves actually made those?

"Also, how to do you get closed captioning on YouTube TV? We're watching 'The Great British Baking Show' and just because they call it 'English' doesn't mean they're actually speaking a version we understand. Is a scone just pretty much a biscuit but a biscuit is a cookie to them?"

All right, so it's probably fine if the president doesn't incite hostilities with the United Kingdom by pointing out, oh, let's just say, the idiosyncrasies of their particular use of our shared language. And I'm probably all right if he doesn't message the nation as I messaged my children just after Thanksgiving that I had overcome my addiction to leftovers by quitting cold turkey.

Though, there is a lot to say for uniting the country. Even if it's in a collective groan.

It's just that I am both hoping and hopeful that we may have returned to a time when the leader of the free world understands, just as most of his predecessors did that, to put it bluntly, rockets fly and people potentially die based on his words. And while there is no indication that actually did happen, 280 characters may not allow for the nuance that keeps it from taking place unnecessarily. At least in theory.

I may be wrong, but I don't think I'm alone in being fine with most communication from the President being, oh, I don't know, bland in nature. I'm quite done with living in "interesting times."

Save the fireworks for the big stuff. I'm not going to mind if for the next bit, we get stirring speeches but tweets that consist of, "It's National Ice Cream Day! And who knew, it falls on a Sunday!" Which, actually, it does.

And maybe he can try to explain to the UK that a "lift" is what an elevator gives you, not what it is. And that you go to "a" or "the" hospital, not just "hospital." I mean, sometimes you just have to take a firm stand.

Gary Smith is a recovering journalist living in Rogers.


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