Like the question of the chicken and the egg, it's now fair to ask: Is Twitter making people dumb? Or were people dumb before Twitter and this particular Internet vehicle just happens to reveal this fact? Just looking at the last week at a glance reveals both, sadly, might be true.
It's obvious President Trump has an affinity for Twitter. However some of his tweets — or even the fact that he's tweeting so regularly at all — reveals an underlying insecurity, a quick temper and skewed priorities. Critics believe that the president of the free world trolling a news organization while North Korea is testing a ballistic missile just seems like a poor use of time at best, irresponsible and unpresidential at worst. Supporters no doubt claim that's what they love about a Trump presidency.
Twitter reveals collective lack of intelligence. Whether because people actually are unaware, ignorant, or just too quick to respond before thinking through an issue, it's clear knowledge is power and the lack of it is painfully obvious.
For example, in order to honor our nation's Independence Day holiday Tuesday, NPR tweeted the entire Declaration of Independence including names of the signers. While it seems like most adult Americans should recognize phrases from one of their country's most pivotal, founding documents, at least a few people on Twitter didn't. To the phrase explaining that the people have a right to abolish their current government and revolt to form a new one, a Twitter user tweeted back, "So NPR is calling for revolution. Interesting way to condone the violence while trying to sound ‘patriotic.' Your implications are clear."
Hello, McFly, those are our Founding Fathers talking and that's written in the declaration.
Finally, Twitter reveals ethical conundrums and a dark side to power, politics and insecurity. Earlier Trump tweeted a silly gif someone had made showing him in a wrestling match with CNN.
It was absurd and over the top, as many gifs are. The tweet infuriated supporters and detractors alike, but CNN was especially embarrassed. Emboldened by increasing news coverage, they posted a story saying while they weren't going to reveal the identity of the creator of the gif since he apologized, they "reserve the right to" if the creator changes his stance on things.
This is not only blackmail by a large news corporation toward a private citizen over a gif, but a frightening look at how people and organizations behave when humiliated and lacking in any humility or ethical obligations.
Of course, the real problem probably isn't Twitter, it's people. Humanity is raw and depraved, desperate and greedy. Twitter just happens to often reveal the worst in people.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.