What would Twitter be without Trump raging about political enemies, bragging about his success or tweeting random comments while watching Fox & Friends? We all would be back to re-tweeting cat pictures.
We all are going crazy when it comes to the latest Trump tweet. Some even set Twitter alerts and use pre-written responses to be among the first to reply. But where is the point in responding to his tweets? I think there are at least two groups of people replying.
The first group consists of those naively thinking the president would actually dig through the flood of mentions. And we are talking about a hell of a lot of mentions! Even if there is no recent tweet from @realdonaldtrump this account receives about 60-100 replies. Per minute and around the clock! And this number easily triples the moment he dropped a tweet. Supporters, "Best President Ever"-bots (have you ever noticed that these tweets mostly come from users in foreign countries?), haters, comedians, democrats, activists, journalists - the whole internet jumps into a huge and messy discussion about impeachment, indiction and the 2020 election. His mentions have turned into an ongoing noisy chatroom with thousands of people quarreling at the same time.
Assuming Donald Trump sleeps for an average of 8 hours he has around 28.800 to 48.000 mentions waiting in his Twitter account by the time he wakes up! Even if he would just fly over all of them it would roughly take him ten hours per day. I hate to break it to you, but Donald Trump will very likely never read any of your replies. And since a federal judge declared Trump's favorite strategy of blocking his critics as unconstitutional you won't even get the fame for being blocked by the President of the United States any longer (even though Stephen King still seems to remain blocked).
Anyway, you will get a lot of attention of others following Trump - especially if you are among the very first people to reply to his tweet! Prepare yourself for a lot hatred from impeachment-activists or #MAGA fanatics (depending on your reply). But you will get a lot of interactions, that is for sure!
And that is exactly the motivation of group number two: Getting their share of the Twitter-fame! Replying to Trump within the first few seconds gains the most attention of his followers (58 Million!) and is one of the most effective platforms for self-promotion! As The Atlantic notes, it is prime media real estate. Many people even set their Twitter App's mobile notification solely for Trump's tweets to be among the first to reply, because surfing the Trump Tweet Wave is the golden opportunity to raise your tweet's impressions and engagements to tens of thousands within the first minute!
However the real intentions of those who frequently race for the first reply are highly questionable. Do they really want to argue with Trump (unlikely) or (more likely) simply take advantage of the attention? This phenomenon fuels a parasitic economy in which people compete to ride Trumps digital coattails. They obsessively re-tweet, analyze, comment and attack. This helps Trump tremendously by focusing massive attention on his agenda while this also makes him seem larger than life. This again produces a cognitive effect called the "focusing illusion" and it helps explain how Trump ascended from political clown to the presidency. It's a double-edged sword and we all should question ourselves whether we really want to change the fate of this country or put us in a spotlight out of vanity.