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  • Writer's pictureJason Farr

140 Characters or Less

Updated: Nov 6, 2019

Many people have been complaining about Twitter's decision to double the amount of characters you can use in tweets. From geniuses like Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Lin-Manuel Miranda to some rando with 56 followers.

The argument they make is that with 140 characters people were forced to be more creative and think. Which is a fair point. When you have less space you try to find craftier and more creative ways to speak while keeping your intent intact. It's a problem to solve and it makes you use your brain, which is a good thing. If you never go over a character limit you won't have a problem to solve. That's a very valid point to make, but I ultimately disagree.

For one, condensing your words made for easily misunderstood comments. What was a genuinely thoughtful statement turned into a curt comment that offended and escalated into an argument. Secondly, the original intent was not to get people to think more. When Twitter started people had to text in their tweets and most wireless phones at the time would only let you write up to 160 characters in a text. The decision to limit tweets to 140 characters was made out of circumstance. We're not losing some significant intentional purpose by their doubling the character limit.

Side note: There has to be someone who feels old now because they remember when they had to text in tweets 10 years ago and a lot of kids don't remember that. Meanwhile, my grandmother had a rotary phone and I distinctly remember using it when I was the age of the kids on Stranger Things.

Anyway, the main reason I disagree that going to 280 characters is bad is that people didn't get craftier and more creative when they had 140. They just wrote tweets with horrendous grammatical errors and dumb work-arounds. Bunches of tweets just sounded like cavemen wrote them.

Need examples?

It is good advice, but the poor grammar makes it hard for the point to land. I'm not exactly going to put that on my wall for encouragement...but now I have a really great idea for a new poster that people will definitely buy!

I particularly hate "ur" as a work-around because it is used for both "your" and "you're." This is annoying and it should annoy us all!

To hell with punctuation! Also, I'm certain she's talking about shows for emo punk bands. (PS, Krista's really funny. Follow her!)

This is wrong on multiple levels, to be honest.


The point is, it appears that many people just took all the shortcuts and dumbed down their thoughts instead of trying to be smarter about how they used their characters.

I don't think Twitter's decision will have much of an impact on people. The people who didn't care before will continue not caring now and the people who did care will keep writing creatively.

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