[Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2012. It was recovered from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and republished in 2018.]
This is the most retweeted tweet I’ve ever tweeted:
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) October 30, 2012
It blew up so much it attracted Donald Trump’s notice. He responded:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2012
I dream of the day when I get nearly 1,700+ retweets of a story instead of a sentiment. Apparently, I touched a nerve. My tweet just kept going and going and going.
By the numbers, my tweet was amplified five times as much as Trump’s, with a bit less than 10% of the followers. On particular count, I may have “trumped” the real estate mogul on Twitter, although I think it’s safe to say that this is an imperfect gauge of public opinion. He also shows no signs of shifting his course.
On a more qualitative level, Trump’s @mention of me exposed me to a day’s worth of emotional feedback online. I received many negative @replies on Twitter when the @WhiteHouse retweeted me last July. The angry responses after Donald Trump @mentioned me this week, however, were worse in scale and composition.
As I gain more surface area online and in the media, through television appearances, I’m finding that I’m encountering more hate, fear, ignorance and anger everywhere. Honestly, I have a hard time not responding to people online. I’ve never liked seeing broadcast journalists and celebrities ignore people, even angry viewers or fans. It’s not how I’ve worked over the last decade and I don’t intend to change.
As I gain more of a platform to focus attention on issues that matter, this won’t get easier. The Internet mirrors what is worst in humanity, along with what’s best in us. The Web is what we make of it. It’s a bitter reality, though I think it’s been part of the public sphere as long as we’ve had one.