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Opinion: Twitter’s not the place to hash out foreign policy

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I don’t have the funniest Twitter account in Springfield.

Not even the second or third. In fact, I was seeded ninth in Murney Associates, Realtors’ recent blog, “Help Us Decide Who Has The Funniest Twitter Account In Springfield.”

The Murney Blog has been on fire lately – think BuzzFeed for Springfield. Posts range from “7 Springfield Power Couples” to “10 Ozarks Instragramers You Need to Follow” and, my favorite, “26 Things Only People Who Lived In SGF In The 90s Will Remember.”

Heck yeah, I remember Hydraslide. You haven’t fully lived unless you’ve skinned your knee on the wet, green AstroTurf while trying to climb that monster hill.

The blog’s most recent offering was a tournament-style bracket pitting the Queen City’s wittiest tweeters against each other in a battle for online votes and comedic superiority. Contestants such as “The Mystery Hour” host Jeff Houghton, Revel Advertising Creative Director Chris Jarrett and the voice of Mother’s Brewing Co. went head to head for votes, with Missouri State University coming out victorious.

I fell in the first round to fellow reporter Stephen Herzog at the Springfield News-Leader. A friend since our days in the trenches together at MSU’s college newspaper, I’d like to say I was OK with the loss – but that would be a lie. I’m competitive and it stung.

However, it makes sense. For me, Twitter is simply life told 140 characters at a time. I’m not intentionally funny – most of my tweets are observational. I simply take the time to write them down; job hazard, I suppose.

Twitter is more than just jokes and tweets about things I find in the parking garage; it’s become a primary form of communication for many. In recent months, its even become a forum to set national policy.

The morning of June 7, President Donald Trump – under the handle @realDonaldTrump – tweeted his appointment for the next FBI director. It wasn’t until about four hours later the White House put out an actual statement to the same effect. As of this writing, the official @POTUS account still is mum on the subject.

Is the announcement of the appointment of a high-ranking government official via Twitter the worst thing? No, but it’s a slippery slope. And in reality you know that’s not all the president has tweeted lately.

Trump has been active on Twitter for more than eight years now, voicing his opinions on everything from President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to questioning why fat people drink Diet Coke and telling Robert Pattinson to dump Kristen Stewart.

And that’s just the junk I can remember off the top of my head.

Naively, I assumed when he became president the Twitter chatter would cease. You know what they say about people who assume. In reality, it’s gotten worse, but his supporters don’t seem to care. It’s become a sticking point for connecting with the people.

On June 6, he tweeted, “The FAKE MSM is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out.”

Count me among the fake mainstream media then, because I believe that’s just the problem – these messages are unfiltered. The president having direct contact with the American people is fabulous, but the catch is it’s not just Americans reading these tweets – they’re open to the world, and the world is taking note.

The day before that tweet, Trump called out a foreign leader directly following the June 5 London Bridge attacks.

“Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!” he tweeted.

Imagine if Prime Minister Tony Blair had called Mayor Rudy Giuliani pathetic following the Sept. 11 attacks.

With Trump set to visit the country in the coming weeks, Khan and British citizens seek to call off the trip, putting Prime Minister Theresa May between a rock and a hard place – anger the country’s largest ally or anger the people who elected her?

Twitter has a time and a place – but it’s not for setting foreign policy at 3 a.m. And when you’re the leader of the free world, it’s not for vocalizing every thought that pops into your head.

I wanted to end with something funny, but my funny bone fails me. I guess that’s why I finished ninth.

For now, I’ll stick to the random tweets. Mr. President, you stick to running the country.

Springfield Business Journal Features Editor and Audience Development Director Emily Letterman can be reached at eletterman@sbj.net.

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