The Irony of Melania Trump's Stand on Cyberbullying
Proof Schubert Reed
September 25th, 2017
As a high school freshman in 2017, I love social media. I love being able to reach out to my friends, whenever and wherever I am, or keep up with politics and the latest trends.
However, that said, as a high school freshman in 2017, I know that social media can also really hurt. Personally, I have felt and seen the repercussions of abused social media: an Instagram post carefully manufactured to exclude; a Snapchat game employed only to target the social victim of the week; even a seemingly harmless Facebook status update that hurts anyway.
So, for me, when I found out that First Lady Melania Trump was putting bullying (specifically cyberbullying) at the top of her agenda, I was somewhat pleased. Maybe I disapproved of her husband and his administration, but at least she was making an effort to approach and exact change on issues that were personal and relevant to me.
But isn’t there something kind of hypocritical about the fact that Melania’s goal is to end cyberbullying? She might care deeply about the issue and America’s students, but when it comes to it, her husband is perhaps the biggest contemporary cyberbully of them all.
Trump’s bullying comes straight out of his personal Twitter account (although in no way does his harmful behavior end when he isn’t tweeting). Throughout the campaign, he came up with nicknames for fellow politicians — think “Crooked Hillary,”“Little Marco,” or even now, “Rocket Man.” These nicknames were designed to make Trump’s opponents feel small on the political stage. He constantly bashes on individuals and parties on Twitter, referring to people he dislikes as “losers” or “dummies.”
On Sunday, while criticizing NFL players who were kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of systemic racial profiling and abuse, Trump referred to their football games as boring. Of course, this comment doesn’t demonstrate cruel cyberbullying in its fullest form, but it is a perfect example of Trump using arbitrary criticisms to demean those with whom he does not agree. Trump, essentially being his own press secretary, is able to present language like this to a national audience whenever he wants, and direct it to whomever is disturbing him on the given day.
In this way, how are teenagers — who are brought up in a technology-run world and taught from day one the President is the morally and politically supreme leader of the land — supposed to understand that Trump is anything but an example to follow?
On September 20th, Melania Trump spoke at the United Nations General Assembly on the importance of empowering the world’s youth and teaching them values of empathy, kindness, and integrity in communication (online or in person) so that they can be better leaders of tomorrow. To an outsider, unaware of the behavior of America’s administration, Melania’s speech may have seemed perfectly, innocuously supportive and empowering. But to someone who is to any extent politically involved in our world, the hypocrisy in her words is outstanding: “By our own example, we must teach children to be good stewards of the world they will inherit.” Melania’s right. But that example can’t only start with some of the local leaders, or some of the parents. Everyone must contribute, and that example starts with people like her husband — people who teach children, by their own example, how to speak to each other, how to act towards each other, and who to be.