Wait, Twitter is considering what‽ An increase in the long-standing character limit from the simplistic 140 to a mammoth 10,000?
Ludicrous! Ridiculous! …Amazing?
Oh yes, that’s the opinion of this author: An increased character limit for tweets is absolutely amazing. Let’s explore why (right after a few flashbacks).
Twitter Circa 2007 (I Think)
I remember in undergrad, when Twitter was on the rise, someone asked me whether I planned on joining the social platform. My deadpan answer: “Uh, no.” (And though I didn’t actually roll my eyes, it was clearly intended in my tone.)
My primary thoughts for not joining at the time involved two points: For one, the whole concept seemed rather pointless; after all, wasn’t it just Facebook sans everything but the status update? And two, a 140-character limit was…well…limiting. (FYI, I hate abhor limitations.)
Not only was it limiting as far as just space, I saw it further degrading the entire English language. (Text messages were already playing their part in that tragedy.)
Frankly, I was tad upset about the whole ordeal.
Twitter Circa 2008–2014
Jumping forward: What a surprise because that’s exactly what happened, only even faster than I could have imagined.
Everywhere I looked were incomplete sentences, jumbles of letters and numbers, and general grammatical disarray! This (or some variation) look familiar?
Goin to the store 2 get sum za #latenitemunchies
In case you didn’t quite understand that “sentence,” here’s a translation:
I’m going to the store to get some pizza #latenighthunger
I’ll take it one step further. Here’s an actual portion of this piece I tweeted specifically for this post:
Note how the translation is a complete sentence, completely understandable, still fits within the 140-character limit, and uses a #hashtag.
— Brandon Hastings (@WritePrecisely) January 7, 2016
The problem was that with the character limit, a trend emerged in shortening text to extremes much less than 140 characters. Brevity is one thing, but this trend just made everyone downright lazy!
Worse still, that typical tweet you might have seen just on Twitter slowly trickled into text messages and even in emails—at work no less (of course with different content).
It was during this period that I tended to refer (warmly of course) to Twitter users who would tweet such…inventive language as twits.
Twitter Circa 2015
So, I wound up joining Twitter in mid-2015, though I technically stuck to my original declaration of “Uh, no” because I joined purely for my business brand, not for any personal interest.
With the millions of users and brands on Twitter, it would have been foolish to not join the social network, unless I liked limiting my reach (I don’t).
Still, I did commit to at least not tweeting rubbish or nonsense. And I sought to tweet comprehensibly and in complete (as possible) sentences. As a professional writer and pseudo perfectionist, I just couldn’t bear to see twit-worthy tweets stemming from my business moniker.
Surprisingly, I found that it actually wasn’t that hard, which made me even more perplexed as to why so many had essentially given up on crafting decent verbiage for their tweets.
Anyway, I digress…
Twitter Circa Amazing
And back to the present with this consideration for expanding the character limit to 10,000.
Now, as the Re/code article mentioned, there will likely be a filter of sorts that will still render tweets in their standard 140-character appearance, requiring user action to see the remaining content.
Thank goodness for this because not applying that filter would pose an entirely different problem and turn Twitter into an episode of Hoarders.
Why I find this announcement so wonderful (if you haven’t already guessed) is because Twitter users and brands would no longer have to be burdened with being forced to bound their voice within 140 characters.
And if you have any inkling of respect for words and language and receiving a full message (as intended), you’ll be happy like me.
With the ability to tweet beyond 140 characters, Twitter users and brands will be empowered to actually think about their message (and please do), employing the additional space wisely (we can only hope).
There will also no longer be an excuse for butchered verbiage, though people will still need to ensure the first 140 characters provide sufficient motivation (hint: focus on value) to click for more, which may require a little more effort.
And I’m all for more effort because most of what I see on Twitter nowadays borders on #WTF.
What do you think about Twitter’s potential character-limit increase? Share in the comments section below.
Cover image courtesy of HTSABO