I love Twitter. It’s the only social media I use with any enthusiasm. Facebook and Instagram leave me cold. They seem like people presenting their most boring sides to the internet. And I’m too distant from high school to get Snapchat or use Youtube as a social media service.
Twitter seems more immediate and real than other social media. It’s like riffing on a shared inside joke. As an emotionally distant ADD case, it’s the kind of thing I always enjoyed the most about friendships.
This week’s announcement that Twitter was testing doubling its 140 character limit was troubling. Why would anyone want tweets to be longer? That sounds like the kind of snoozy wall of text crap that makes Facebook insufferable. It would take away all the meanness, speed and exhilaration of the platform. It’s like forcing Mötorhead to become the Avett Brothers. What’s the point?
This is a small change, but a big move for us. 140 was an arbitrary choice based on the 160 character SMS limit. Proud of how thoughtful the team has been in solving a real problem people have when trying to tweet. And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence! https://t.co/TuHj51MsTu
— jack (@jack) September 26, 2017
Because of the structurally imposed brevity, Twitter boils personalities down to their essences. You don’t have time to waste, so you play to your strengths and instincts. If you’re funny, you say funny shit. If you’re a feminist, conservative or socialist, you drill down deep into your ideology. If you suck at what you’re trying to do, no one will pay attention and the lack of response will hopefully convince you to move on.
Twitter’s an open platform beloved by people who work in the media. Want to reach tv personalities like Joy Reid or Sean Hannity? Sign up for a Twitter account and you can reach them. They’re not necessarily going to see you or respond, and if they do notice you, they might block you or mute you. But their fans will see your comments.
Twitter’s a perfect platform for sniping and, to a lesser degree, reasoned debate. With everyone presenting the purest parts of their personalities, flint hits stone hard enough to spark constantly. The clearest communication, the hardest hitting joke wins. People are mean and pure in a way that they’re not usually allowed to be.
Evidently, even the President of the United States is on Twitter. I don’t follow that dude—I don’t need some soft-brain complaints about uppity pro athletes cluttering my feed.
I guess Twitter is struggling to monetize invective. They want the food pictures and inspirational quotes of instagram because it’s something that some idiot in a Ted Talk could claim is bringing people closer together. When we leave our bodies to interact online, we’re like a million bugs made of shattered glass crawling over each other’s jagged edges searching for footholds and weakness.
So, sorry. Twitter is what we look like when we’re actually brought together. On the bright side, jokes that are geometrically perfect happen sometimes, too.
SCIENTIST: Let's name this spider Long Legs, for its long legs
SCIENTIST 2: Hmm not kinky enough
— Philly Byrne (@PhilipNByrne) September 25, 2017
Follow the author at @adamrbulger