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Last night, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the following on behalf of his father’s campaign:
The tenor of the reception to this tweet, at least in my cavernous echo chamber of the internet, was one of near-universal revulsion. I spent the remainder of my night scrolling through my feed, flush with triggering photos of blood-soaked Syrian children, their captions telling me that “This. Child. Is. Not. A. Skittle.”
Soon enough, Skittles offered some moral clarity in response: "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people." The plot congealed further when BBC reported that the man who took the Flickr image in the tweet had, in fact, been a Cypriot refugee to the United Kingdom.
This kind of call-and-response has become exhausting to watch this election cycle. Trump Jr.’s tweet wasn’t even the first time we’d seen this exact collection of words: Joe Walsh, conservative politician and radio personality, tweeted that same phrase in August, just without an image:
The reasons why last night's tweet struck such a nerve compared to its predecessor are pretty obvious—Trump Jr. has a larger social media following than Walsh and is, you know, Trump’s son. But it was also attached to the kind of image that typically elicits a Pavlovian response of gratification when it appears in our social media streams. Skittles are a food practically asking to be Instagrammed: a nostalgia-inducing colorful candy, made more appetizing when set against a neutral background and slapped with a Valencia filter. The Trump-Pence ad corrupts this very concept: pretty food primed to ricochet across social streams but infused with anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Which social media manager's life will Trump’s campaign ruin next? Will Hillary, eager to adopt the hip language of her would-be voters, hop on this trend by firing back with a sharply-worded tweet about Starbursts? I'd like to be asleep when this happens next—I’m tired of an election cycle that has forced me to see candy corporations as people.
Did you see Trump Jr.'s tweet? How did you respond?