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Here’s What We’ve Learned After Obama’s First Week on Twitter

Don’t expect the president to be a prolific tweeter, nor for him to offer any glimpses into his personal psyche.

I’m not going to presume that President Barack Obama watches every Big Think video with voracious fervor, but he did open his own Twitter account mere days after we posted this clip featuring Charlene Li:

For those unable to watch, Li recounts an instance in 2012 when the president visited Reddit for an AMA and floundered. According to Li, Obama failed to do two things every engaged leader should do: Understand the audience and communicate expectations for dialogue. No matter how hard he tries to be America’s cool dad, ol’ Barry O. came off as a total square on the internet. 

And then this happened:

Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account.

— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015

The internet blew up. The media covered the new account. The media covered the reaction to the new account. The media tried to determine why it's important that Obama was now trying to winnow his rhetoric down to 140 characters. The media tried to determine what to expect.

Well, we're about a week into the @POTUS era so here's what we now know:

Obama's not a big fan of the men's rights movement.

He still doesn't care for the Cubs.

Tweeting at him may or may not get you entered into a scary White House database.

Really, that's about it. A couple things to note:

1. We've all probably seen the following jokey exchange between Obama and Bill Clinton:

Good question, @billclinton. The handle comes with the house. Know anyone interested in @FLOTUS?

— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015

Humor aside, Obama's answer reveals that the account isn't his property; it belongs to the office and, therefore, the government. Come January 20, 2017 the powers that be are going to kick him to the curb and change the locks.

In an interview with 1to1 Media, Li speculated just how much policy work and contrivance must have gone toward making @POTUS possible. She also explains it's a sign of the times that the executive branch determined it important for the president to hold a perch on the internet's most engagement-friendly social network. That said...

2. Obama doesn't do much engaging. I understand the guy's busy and all, but six total tweets (including three replies) isn't exactly a bounty. The content of those tweets has been predictably vanilla: Commencement with the Coast Guard, a staged visit to a Jewish Pre-K class, and a brief answer to a 5-year-old's letter.

(An interesting aside: In something of an odd, only-on-the-internet kind of trend, Obama's mentions are rife with people calling him "dad.")

The ultimate takeaways here are these: We shouldn't expect for Obama to be particularly prolific with his tweets, nor should we expect them to offer any nuanced looks into the man writing them. This is a tad disappointing for those of us who held out hope that Barry was showing the Secret Service who was boss, signing up mainly so he could tell the world exactly how he felt about last week's Game of Thrones. Alas, for Obama and @POTUS, it's the same old business as usual. Maybe we'll see him break away from the predictable paradigm and tweet something interesting or delightful (I recommend this Vine), but chances are it'll be nothing but the typical from here on out.


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