Off the Shelf: Just the Beginning

President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs from the White House in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)The ability of social media to allow anyone and everyone to “participate” in a political event incentivizes the audience to grant the event’s reality.

Have you ever thought about the fact that people use their smartphones to heckle the president while seated on their toilets, or from airplanes, or while they’re walking back to their desks from the cafeteria in their office? This is what it means to have social media. The president publishes an announcement, a taunt, or a comment about television into Twitter, and literally anyone with an account can comment underneath it, in a weird simulation of talking back at him.

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Imagine describing this to people from even 30 years ago. They might conclude that the exposure of the president, and the seeming risk taken by the heckler, would both be so unwelcome that no one would do this. How could a politician who exposes himself that way even achieve office? And yet, we’ve seen it.

The election of Donald Trump has been looked at through almost every lens. Ideological: Wasn’t American

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