Posting for Success
Donald Trump is the least qualified and the most reviled candidate ever to run for president of the United States. Yet here we are with Trump posting his anxiety-ridden, pathologically narcissistic tweets from the Oval Office. How could this possibly have happened? In a recent academic article for Boundary2 Online I explain how the demise of journalism and the political establishment is a product of our hyper-mediatized existence. Trump exemplifies a life lived in media that is cynically and opportunistically manipulated for individual ends. Media branding and self-promotion are central to the logic of late-capitalism.
Trump uses his access to a primetime and social media following to ruthlessly maximise any opportunity regardless of traditional notions of talent, whether in business or politics. What may well have began as a publicity stunt to pressure NBC to increase their bid for Trump’s service in The Apprentice ended becoming a chaotic run for the White House. Trump’s lack of discipline or preparedness, while shocking the journalistic and political class, was irrelevant so long as he had his connection to a loyal audience invested in him.
As Alison Hearn writes he embodies the logic of social media as “a non-stop entrepreneurial adventure involving the pursuit of multiple revenue streams predicated on the savvy deployment of virtuosic communicative and image skills”.
The necessitates an urgent reassessment of popular discourses of new media and democracy. What was once seen as a space of optimism and empowerment is now the realm of Trump and the alt-right.