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Friday, January 22, 2016

No Twitter! Don't Do It!

 It's rumored that those who manage Twitter are considering raising the "tweet" limit from 140 characters to 10,000.    For those who don't know, Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called "tweets".  Tweets cover all topics from the ridiculous to the sublime, from politics, arts, and entertainment to just plain goofy stuff like Heidi the cross eyed opossum.  Lots of people & entities have Twitter accounts, including the White House, God (He has several), and Donald Trump.  It's a great way to see what a lot of people are thinking and saying about a particular topic in a relatively short amount of time. 

In the dictionary, "tweet" is defined as "to utter a succession of small, tremulous sounds, as a bird."  The key word here is "small."  The beauty of Twitter is that the 140 character limit forces people to be brief and to the point.  A "tweeter" has to think carefully about what they want to say, and then say it as concisely as possible.  There's not a lot of time wasted on what my high school English teacher used to call "purple prose."  Lots of people can participate in the public discourse without anybody "hogging the stage."

A regular sized paperback book has about 330 words per page.  With an average of 8 letters per word (which is generous), 10,000 characters comes to around 3-1/2 pages.  That's a lot of space to publish a quick, concise thought, with lots of room to ramble.

Twitter is fine just the way it is.  It's fun, informative, entertaining, quick, and easy. That's evidenced by the number and variety of users.  All the major political candidates have accounts, as do actors, musicians, religious leaders, and regular people like you and me.  In order to be an effective "tweeter", you don't have to be eloquent but you do have to be able to make a point. If someone wants to go on at length, they can always publish a link to an extended site.

Increasing the limit to 10,000 characters is going to flood Twitter with too much information.   Who has time to read tweets that long? (That's if they can still call them tweets.  How about "Sqawks" or "Soliloquys?")   If someone has that much to say, let them write a blog.