One of the most fascinating elements of this election has been Trump’s ability to transcend all media boundaries, and get his name out regardless of news outlets’ political leanings. The New York Times publishes just as many articles about Trump compared to Fox News. Your Facebook feed, as mine, is filled daily with quotes, stories, or opinion pieces about Trump. Regardless of their content, whether they positively or negatively portray him, this is unprecedented.
A thought has come into my mind in the last couple weeks – to Trump or not to Trump: to post about him, perpetuate his virus-like media presence, or to instead encourage a total media blackout of him. I was originally going to write a piece on a call for all social media posts about Trump to be put to a halt. By not perpetuating the cycle of his name, I had hoped it would devalue his popularity and policies. Trump’s rhetoric is driven immensely by social media. I am confident that if we were in the pre-Facebook 2004 world, Trump would be an insignificant political actor (the same could be argued about Bernie Sanders). The question remains: do we perpetuate Trump or completely stop our coverage and expansion of him?
A very important and recent development in regards to this conundrum comes from Emory University’s recent news about “Trump 2016” chalkings written around the campus. Many students came out in protest, which I find understandable and credible. Jim Wagner, the president of the university, supported the protests. This reaction is exactly what Trump voters want, and is what drives his popularity. Take note of the Facebook replies to the Emory story:
I would have rather liked to see Wagner state that 1) I and the rest of the Emory University faculty condemn the policies and rhetoric of Mr. Trump and 2) the university will not perpetuate Trump’s popularity by actively censoring its supporters. Simply put, you can disagree with Trump, but if you try to put out fire with more fire you will most likely fail. I would have urged Wagner to have gone beyond choosing sides – he fell into the Trump trap. A more nuanced approach must be put forth.
I think my initial thoughts were too simple in regards to the total blackout of Trump’s media. We cannot perpetuate Trump’s support, but at the same time, totally ignore it – and this is where I am personally stumped. There must be a balance between these two, a way to condemn and denounce his ideals while at the same time not getting swept away in the hurricane.