LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted April 7, 2020
It’s a chicken or egg question. Which came first, social media, or our sudden, insatiable need for attention? Did the rise of texting trigger a dormant need in us for public approval, or did texting cause it?
A lot has been written about this with no consensus that I can detect, but much of the discussion involves politics. A common target, unsurprisingly, is President Trump. Is his incessant tweeting and taking credit for making America great unique to him, or is he a by-product of modern societal behavior? Everything I’ve read suggests the latter.
In my strictly armchair analysis, I compare today’s leaders with historical figures like Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Truman; Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen, Martin Luther King, and Winston Churchill. A mixed bag certainly, but they all had a gift for communicating one-on-one, or to the masses.
Who knows how social media would have influenced their leadership? They may have become savvy online communicators, but it’s hard to imagine Lyndon Johnson frantically pecking an intimidating text message to a congressman instead of cornering him alone in the hall before a meeting. Something might be lost in translation.
Can you picture Winston Churchill scurrying from the House of Commons after one of his WWII speeches to check his smartphone for feedback?
My stodgy world-view implies that we had better leaders then, and/or they were just better people. Again, this is conjecture (and maybe a little cynicism).
World War II and the Coronavirus are two very different challenges, and we’ll never know which set of leaders would have performed better with today’s pandemic. With the WWII group you at least knew who was in charge.
Where the buck stops today is anyone’s guess.
Itasca, Il 60143