Goodbye to all that, amirite? But how will you say goodbye?
Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. EST, Donald John Trump will no longer be the president of the United States. Trump has been a pox on our society, a threat to the long-term livability of the planet, and if there’s any mercy in this universe, he’ll be considered the worst American president for generations to come.
For the last four years, I’ve often fantasized about what I’d write in the event that Trump was removed from office. I’ve thought about it so many times because the man has given us so many occasions to think that he’d used up his last chances. Twitter user Jesse Farrar summed up Trump’s slippery ways in a post that likely holds the record for the most-quoted-but-now-deleted tweet:
But after tomorrow, Trump will no longer have the powers of the presidency to wriggle his way out of any jams. He’ll be facing potential civil and criminal charges from multiple parties, his business is tethered to the name of one of the most loathed people on the planet, and his few friends don’t want to be associated with him.
Considering the circumstances, one would think that writing an obituary for Trump’s presidency would be an easy and pleasurable experience. But, honestly, what is there left to say? It has all been said and will be said again and again and again.
But there’s still a message that needs to be written: the goodbye tweet. Earlier this afternoon, the New York Times’s Astead Herndon observed on Twitter that “someone’s ‘Donald J. Trump is no longer the President of the United States’ tweet is going to bang tomorrow may the odds be in your favor.” To be clear, Herndon is just saying that at noon tomorrow, a lot of people are going to simultaneously tweet, “Donald J. Trump is no longer the President of the United States,” and at least one of those tweets is going to get a ton of shares. Herndon is correct, and he’s already been rewarded with 7,400 likes for his effort.
It’s truly the end of an era for a certain kind of social media culture. We’ve been seeing this social-shift in action for a couple of weeks. Since Twitter banned Trump, the president has been uncharacteristically quiet, and early research has already shown a dramatic drop in the sharing of online misinformation. Trump has been a singular point of focus that made it seem perfectly normal to just retweet or restate the same thing that nine out of 10 users on your timeline are tweeting. In most cases, this was fueled by a clicktivist drive to help keep people informed, run of the mill clout-chasing, or simply to scream into the void.
I’m guessing that Herndon’s prediction about a very basic tweet going viral was prompted by a number of White House reporters simultaneously tweeting at noon today that Trump only has 24 hours left in office. Remember “covfefe”? That’s a thing we all tweeted about in unison while our assholes clenched in anticipation of the next presidential tweet. Do you remember getting the notification that Trump tested positive for covid-19 and tweeting, “Trump tested positive for covid-19" while being careful not to say more? The first time Trump got impeached, the time that he lost the election to Joe Biden, and the second time he got impeached were all perfect occasions to say what happened in a public manner with a bunch of people who are all thinking the same thing and want to affirm some sort of connection to a shared reality.
So, at noon on Wednesday, I will be tweeting, “Donald J. Trump is no longer the President of the United States,” and I urge you to retweet me as the main guy saying it. If it makes you feel good, tweet it yourself. Retweet me, then type it out and tweet it. Then screengrab the two tweets and accuse yourself of plagiarism. And then let’s wipe our minds clean, focus on the systemic issues that aren’t walking out the door with Trump, and try to tweet about something new.