While he might not have the same number of followers as Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, or even former President Barack Obama, current President Trump still has one of the top 50 Twitter accounts. (He's #33, for what it's worth.) However, unlike the fashion pics that Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian tend to share, Trump has largely used his account to bypass the mainstream media and voice his opinion.
Sometimes, I have agreed with his opinion in these tweets. A platform like Twitter lets public figures bypass a media market that's already made up its mind about how it tells a story. But, whether I have agreed with his tweets or not, Trump's prolific tweeting hasn't always allowed him to appear as presidential as he might have. The lack of the filter also means you don't have, well, a filter.
And, now it turns out that there might be yet another reason for the president to give up Twitter: science.
Trump has routinely bragged about the advantage that not drinking gives him, he has bragged about his low need for sleep, and he's bragged about a few other things too. However, a recent study might show that his addiction, or at least affection, for Twitter and in particular his late-night-tweets might be harming his ability to function at the same level that we expect from a president, though it doesn't appear that he'll give up Twitter any time soon.
The study compiled and studied tweets and the performance of 112 NBA players over the course of seven seasons. These 30,000 tweets seem to show that performance was harmed if, the night before a game, there was a tweet between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Players scored on average about one point less in games following late-night tweets, and their shooting accuracy dropped 1.7 percentage points compared with their performance in games that did not follow late-night tweeting. After a late-night tweet, players also took fewer shots and had fewer rebounds, steals and blocks.
So, a late-night tweet wouldn't improve my ability to take on Lebron James in a game of H-O-R-S-E, but in a world as competitive as the NBA, one point less per game could be difference between the bench and a bonus. More importantly, what does it look like when a president is performing sub-optimally?
It likely doesn't mean that we enter into a new war, but a sup-optimal president might mean that he isn't able to rally or motivate his staff as effectively. A motivated staff might not leak as much. Or, a motivated staff might be able to help a bill move through Congress.
We are still trying to figure out what a baseline of action or ability would be for Trump. But, in a job as important and stressful as the presidency, anything that impairs his ability to function at 100 percent should be avoided. Heck, if he quits Twitter, he would also have a few more things to brag about (not needing Twitter, or not being addicted to Twitter, he would be above Twitter).
As a parent of young kids, I have to tell them almost every day to put down technology at some point and do something else. Most of the time, I am just trying to give them a taste of life without technology. Quaint, right? However, sometimes at night it is just to make sure that they settle down and get enough sleep.
I don't need that for myself, but maybe someone in Trump's inner circle should show him this new study, this article, or maybe just tell him "no" — and threaten to take away his blankie. It would make for a more boring presidency, for sure, but according to science, it would be a more productive one.
Charles Sauer (@CharlesSauer) is a contributer to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is president of the Market Institute and previously worked on Capitol Hill, for a governor and for an academic think tank.
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