Opinion: Pick up the phone

May30 Sanders phone

One of the city’s remaining pay phones at First Avenue and 17th Street

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Thomas Jefferson once said when angry, count to 10 before speaking and when very angry, count to 20.

The problem with modern social media is that it is instantaneous with no pause before we unload our thoughts. Texting, Facebook likes, Instagram, and of course tweeting.

If you walk along First Avenue between 14th Street and 23rd Street, you may see a few communication relics from the past.

For those who were born after the year 1999, they used to be called “telephone booths.” They are very scarce now, sort of like the Model T car of transportation.

Once upon a time, those booths were actually enclosed with an accordion door. They even had big voluminous telephone books with the names, addresses and phone numbers of most every Manhattan resident.True, iPhones, laptop computers and the like have that information and more with the touch of the screen. It is certainly a marvel and a tremendous convenience.

But with modern and expedient technology also comes a loss of intimacy or any real personal connection. No voice, no subtly. No interpersonal give and take. Just the immediacy of your instant thoughts with no time to filter or reconsider. Once you tap send there is no turning back.

So if you are angry or frustrated more times than not your thoughts will be sent to someone or to the cyber world before you can count to ten.

Donald Trump has transformed policy making and presidential pronouncements through his daily impetuous tweets and his angry tirades, when he feels put upon, which is often.

The result according to fact checkers and publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post is that Donald Trump has made over 10,000 false statements in 2 1/2 years in office… Roughly a dozen falsehoods a day!

Yes, politicians will lie, but this dubious record is without precedent and is profoundly dangerous. When truth cannot be relied upon from our highest public officials then government cannot be trusted. And that is how democracy dies.

For a man with little patience and less self-restraint, a Twitter feed allows Trump to vent without checking for accuracy, and with no time to reflect on the consequence of making such remarks to begin with. It is communication by impulse.

He even shocks his top staff and cabinet members by making sudden policy declarations via social media without consulting his advisors.

Richard Nixon never had the internet to reveal his unguarded thoughts, but he probably would have been more careful and circumspect than Donald Trump.

It took the surprise disclosure of secret tapes to bring down his presidency.

One can only speculate, but if Trump had to first look up a phone number or take the time to make a call and actually talk to someone before blurting maybe he would be more prudent. And if he needed to walk to a phone booth before issuing a statement to his followers, perhaps he would have a moment to reconsider his careless comments and keep himself and the country out of trouble.

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