In comedian Dave Chappelle’s now-defunct show, there was a popular skit called “A Moment in the Life of Lil’ Jon.” Chappelle played Lil’ Jon, a rapper largely known for yelling “YEAH!” and “OK!” and “WHAT!?” in a slightly crazed voice. In the skit, Lil’ Jon appears at places like the doctor’s office and the airport and answers every question, predictably, with “YEAH!”, “OK!” and “WHAT?” — until he suddenly, and quite randomly, bursts into fits of haughty Shakespearean English.
In some ways, the Trump-related freak-outs that appear every few minutes online are similar. Trump will do something Trumpian — not bothering to wave when he boards Air Force One, complaining about Vanity Fair, analyzing crowd sizes, or veering into discussions of hostile media coverage when he’s talking about Martin Luther King Jr. — and social media will explode in outrage, shock, and surprise, shaking each example like the aforementioned wildly enthusiastic dog.
People are welcome to critique whatever they’d like, of course. These days, in fact, it seems that endless critique is the sole function of our increasingly joyless social media. But therein lies the second step to sanity in the age of Trump: More often than not, it’s worthwhile to tune out of the social-media yell-fests. “I have come to believe that it is impossible for anyone who is regularly on social media to have a balanced and accurate understanding of what is happening in the world,” the professor Alan Jacobs wrote at The New Atlantis on January 23. “To follow a minute-by-minute cycle of news is to be constantly threatened by illusion.”