I remember back in 2008 when I first joined Twitter. One of my church communications mentors encouraged it, so I dove in. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but I was hooked the first time I interacted with a celebrity – I think it was the band Gomez.
I have Twitter to thank for the jump start to my writing career back in 2010, and my Twitter friendship with Resurgent founder Erick Erickson helped land my writing gig here. So Twitter has proven useful and beneficial for me. Bear in mind that much of this took place before trolling became the world’s worst art form.
One of the most attractive things about Twitter is the elegance of the 140-character limit. The format forces users to be pithy or clever – or write like Prince – to achieve an acceptable tweet. But now Twitter is undermining what made it so unique in the past and moving toward becoming just another social media outlet by experimenting with doubling the character limit.
It’s a bold idea, and it carries a measure of controversy with it.
“We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters — we felt it, too,” the company said in its blog post. “But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint. We are excited to share this today, and we will keep you posted about what we see and what comes next.”
Now you’re probably thinking what I’m thinking: what about Donald Trump? Breathe easy, because the president is not part of the beta testing group. Know who else isn’t? Marcia Dorsey, the mom of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
— Marcia Dorsey🌻 (@marciadorsey) September 26, 2017
Needless to say, Twitter users reacted to the news in some of the most glorious ways:
What tweets look like after Twitter’s 280 character limit pic.twitter.com/s2vPK6Spfc
— merde lord (@Pun_Singh) September 27, 2017
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) September 26, 2017
— Gabriella Hoffman (@Gabby_Hoffman) September 26, 2017
280 characters? I think that’s a little excessive. If you can’t get your point across on Twitter in 140 characters or less you have some maj
— Sweep the Leg (@SweepTheLeg337) September 26, 2017
I like that with #280characters it's easier for other languages to tweet.
I don't like that for some people, this will mean double the hate.
— Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff) September 27, 2017
Here’s the thing: Twitter with a longer character limit is really just Facebook with a shorter limit. Longer character limits give trolls more space to say stupid things – heck, it gives users more space to make dumb statements in the first place. Increasing the character limit causes Twitter to lose what made it unique in the first place and muddies up the waters of a social media landscape that has grown increasingly homogenized. I fear that the only people who will utilize 280 characters are the folks who have nothing positive to say but now have twice as much space to use. And ads – oh, the ads will definitely put 280 characters to use.
If Twitter ever introduces “stories,” I’m outta there!