Of Typos and Twitter

Since we last left our hero, things haven’t really improved. DeVos, following in her boss’s footsteps, took to Twitter this week. It didn’t go well. She provided ample content which social media users and media outlets used to ridicule her.

The first episode of Twitter drama didn’t come from DeVos personally, but the US Department of Education account. The account tweeted, “Education must not simply tweet work – it must teach life. W.E.B. DeBois” misspelling the DuBois as DeBois.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.23.05 AM.png

In an effort to correct themselves, the account then tweeted, “Post updated – our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo.” Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.21.47 AM

If you can’t spot the typo in that one, just stop reading.

Many used this gaffe to personally attack DeVos, but she gave them something even better.

Earlier in the week she tweeted: “Day 1 on the job is done, but we’re only getting started. Now where do I find the pencils? 🙂 ” with a dramatic black and white picture from behind of DeVos clad in a business professional sheath dress and sensible heels, walking into an elegant and studious office.

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You know that one friend in each friend group that everyone mercilessly makes fun of? So much so that they basically walk into scenarios that makes them the butt of a joke? We all know that guy. My last boyfriend was that guy. DeVos is that guy.

Out of context, her tweet is obviously supposed to be a mild-mannered joke. In context, this is further ammunition for critiques of DeVos who love to slam her for her lack of experience. (Hint: that’s pretty much everyone). The rhetoric surrounding the entirety of her confirmation process focused on her minimal involvement in public schools and her inability to answer basic questions about the current American education system. So to ask something as basic as “Where do I find the pencils?” further promotes the stigma. It’s a doe-eyed deer joke that mawkishly giggles, “look at me, the newbie! I have no idea what I’m doing! Hehe I’m so innocent hope I don’t mess up my first day on the job!” but that’s exactly how the public perceived DeVos. And she bought right into it.

I find it hard to believe DeVos has complete control over her social media accounts. First of all, shouldn’t she be too busy, I don’t know, developing policy? to be Tweeting. Second of all, social media is a huge weapon, today’s braindead megaphone, and should not be in the hands of those who cannot handle its power. With great power, comes great responsibility, as wise Uncle Ben said, and that tweet was less than responsible.

Given that, I believe it was fully intentional. I’ve watched enough political dramas to know politicians spend millions of dollars and many midnight hours on campaign strategists who devote their lives specifically to this sort of thing. And if I, a 22 year old college student with no political science experience, can figure out what a faux pas that was, there’s no way it slipped by some of the most powerful DC minds.

So that leads us to the question of why? Why say something that plays right into the hands of the media? Why say something that will rile up journalists and Tweeters everywhere? Why make yourself the butt of an SNL skit?

For the same reason, I think, as the friend everyone makes fun of. Attention. Sure, it’s negative attention, but still…who are people talking about? And what are they talking about? Betsy DeVos, educational secretary, on her first day on the job. Despite all the criticism thrown at her, the dramatic day of selection, the down to the wire historic vote, the petitions and protests, there she still is, , walking into her Washington D.C. office. She still got the job. She still won. And people are still talking about her.

 

 

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