Now that we've official embarked on the nation's first Twitter-driven presidency, it seems like a good time to explore more of what President Donald Trump's favorite social media platform has to offer.
Might I suggest giving the good folks at Merriam-Webster a follow?
Intermingled with a steady stream of word lovers' trivia are some definite signs of the times, based on which words people are looking up each day.
Trump's doom-and-gloom inaugural address from Friday prompted a big spike in searches for the definition of "carnage." In graphically vowing to end "this American carnage," Trump was surely leaning on the second definition listed on the site, "great and usually bloody slaughter or injury (as in battle)."
Saturday's massive women's marches in cities across the country and world prompted plenty of searches on "feminism," which was the site's "#3 lookup" Sunday morning, according to the feed. It's defined both as "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes" and "organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests."
Coming in first was a word that's been "trending consistently for the past few months," according to the Twitter feed — "fascism." Here's the definition: "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition."
All these search trends provide just one more measure of how divisive an era we're entering.
Trump's overwrought description of "carnage" in inner cities, which he thematically conflated with lost factory jobs elsewhere, may have played well with his most ardent supporters, even as many others recoiled. But his use of battle imagery fit right in with the address' overall tone, which was that he had arrived in Washington as some sort of conquering hero.
It confirmed that President Trump will be very much like candidate Trump. He read from a teleprompter and skipped the personal insults, but otherwise, he addressed the country as commander-in-chief for the first time in the same defiant tone he used to get elected, and sprinkled the speech with the same sort of scary imagery he'd used during the campaign.
That included a dystopian view of cities that hardly reflects full reality and that has particularly galled many who call urban areas home. They include New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who said Trump had painted cities with too broad a brush and argued that the country is not the dark and ominous place he described.
It was the gist of Trump's attack against Georgia U.S. Rep. and civil rights icon John Lewis. Responding to Lewis' contention that reports of Russian interference made Trump an illegitimate president, Trump painted Lewis as a do-nothing representative of a crime-infested district that's "in horrible shape" and "falling apart," which pretty much the whole city of Atlanta angrily denies.
It's one reason why U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond of New Orleans, who just became head of the Congressional Black Caucus, did not join Lewis in boycotting the inauguration but did make a point of saying that he was not there to celebrate the new president.
"My goal remains to move the ball forward for the underserved throughout this country. I expect the president-elect will recognize that, and gain a better understanding of his obligation to be President for all Americans,” Richmond said before the inauguration.
For all the bad feeling, it's good that Richmond showed up. His new role positions him to try to bring a more fact-based view of cities, their problems and their strengths to the administration's attention.
Women turned out in droves for a march through New Orleans, which began Saturday afternoon.
Speaking of facts, Merriam-Webster also chimed in after Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway went on "Meet the Press" Sunday and defended press secretary Sean Spicer's claim that the media had falsely reported on relatively low inaugural crowds, all available evidence to the contrary. Conway said, to widespread derision, that Sean Spicer was merely presenting "alternative facts."
Soon after the interview, Merriam-Webster tweeted out that "a fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality."
It's definitely a sign of the times that people need to be reminded of that.