Since Trump won the presidency on November 9, 2016, Twitter has played a central role in politics. Trump has innovated using the social media platform to bypass traditional media outlets and address his supporters directly.
Trump’s rhetoric builds on a general feeling of distrust and exploitation at the hands of the Establishment, sciences, and the media. In the Trump era, political discourse takes place largely online.
Amid these shocking developments, Majid Padellan, an ex-art director from Brooklyn, NY, who worked at a printing company in midtown Manhattan, decided to stand again Trump. When his liberal friends were deactivating their Twitter accounts for fear of retaliation by right-wing extremists, Majid dedicated his life to online activism, changing his Twitter name BrooklynDad_Defiant!, his handle is @mmpadellan. Instead of in offices, Majid now spends 12 to 16 hours of his day in front of an iPhone, polishing his tweets, monitoring the news, liking, and retweeting posts. Due to his activity, his Twitter account grew from a few hundred followers to 866,000 (and counting)!
Majid has spent the last four years trying to expose the lies and tyranny at the heart of the Trump administration while amplifying democratic voices online.
Being so public comes with a price, and Majid has received threats amid his concerns about the rising threat of violence in America. “These are deranged people who are eager to lash out at critical voices like mine,” he said. “But I have never been one to be intimidated into silence.”
A smiling, debonair, and easy-going kind of guy, he likes to crack jokes. But, just tell him that his Tweeter activity is polarizing, and he’ll get animated.
"Look, if what I say is polarizing, so be it. But, you have to pick a side. You do have to pick a side! Now, [Trump] is not somebody who is a regular leader. This is not a George W. Bush. This is not Ronald Reagan. Not a Jimmy Carter, nor a Gerald Ford. This is a guy who has lied 20,000 times and his most recent, most deadly lie, was saying that [the COVID-19 pandemic] is going to go away.”
Against the divisive and toxic political discourse, @BrooklynDad_Defiant has just a single weapon: his keyboard. His style bites like a bullet. His works, limited to just 280 characters, spread like wildfire across the Internet, thanks to his fans’ thousands of likes, retweets, and shares.
While Majid’s approach has been successful, it is not unique."As social media companies struggle to deal with misleading information on their platforms about the election, the COVID-19 pandemic, and more, a large portion of Americans continue to rely on these sites for news,” writes the Pew Research Center, “[53%] of U.S. adults say they get news from social media ‘often’ or ‘sometimes,’ and this use is spread out across a number of different sites."
After casting aside his orthodox career for a life of internet political activism, Majid has emerged as a key influencer in the U.S. political landscape. He is regularly invited to comment on American politics and has been quoted across the globe, from L’Obs in France to Newsweek and CBS here in the U.S.
“America is my home. I was born here, I lived here all my life. I love America! I love the opportunity, the freedom that I have. And it's imperfect. It’s flawed,” he said. “Some folks will tell you, if you don't like it, you should leave. But no, I believe, if you like America, if you love America, you should be willing to fight for it, you should be willing to fight to make America better.”
This is exactly what Majid wants to do with his Twitter activism: he wants to make America a better, more equitable, and habitable place. Especially tapping into the energy and fervor inspired by the brutal murder of George Floyd last spring, Majid is all too aware of the work left to be done.
"I have three Black adult sons. I've had 'the talk' with them," he said. "‘The talk’ is when you tell your young Black children that if they are stopped or pulled over by the police they must comply with them. They must not resist. They must be respectful and polite. And they shouldn't worry about anything else, I will get them out of prison. I will get a lawyer. I cannot replace my children. And, you know, it's, scary when you see other people's children get shot."
Now that Trump is out of office, Majid will continue to support causes and candidates that he believes are in the best interest of Americans. “I have five children who will inherit this planet when I'm gone,” he said. “I believe that it is important to remind our leaders in the Democratic party to toe the line, and I will be using my voice to make sure they do the right thing. But I also look forward to being able to tweet about more of the less-dire topics, like movies, music, and sports. I'll be able to wake up in the morning without immediately checking my phone to see what kind of existential crisis our bumbling [former] ‘president’ has tweeted us into.”
Majid has one recommendation: “to pay closer attention to what is going on, at least on a weekly basis, and stay as far away as possible from Fox News/OANN/Newsmax. Those news stations are bad for your intellectual health.”
He believes that we got into the predicament we're in now for a number of reasons: the economy, racism, misinformation, just to name a few. Is he cautiously optimistic about our future, now that we'll be "under new management”? Definitely. But, he thinks that one of the main reasons America is where it is today is because everyday people have not been politically engaged. “They tune in to politics every four years, without any concern about the mid-term elections which are often more important than Presidential elections, and they often don't question what's going on in the world, or where they are getting their information.”