Twitter, the Source of All Your Brevity Woes

Tired of being contained by 140 characters? Times are about to change

Illustrator: Katie Heywood

Recently, the famed micro-status social media we all know as Twitter announced that its arbitrary 140-character tweet limit was holding its users back, and that plans were in place to increase the limit to a whopping 280, doubling the number of characters you can now force onto the feeds of others. Some wordier folks feel this will expand the virtual word-treasures they’ll be able to produce, while others feel that the idea of a 280-character tweet takes away the brevity component of Twitter and, somehow, feels like an insane amount of reading to do. God forbid we read anything longer than two sentences in our binge scrolling search for the best celebrity commentary and dog videos. As someone who has a Twitter account that I never glance at, let alone scroll through, I thought it would be handy for those who do use it if I, an “unbiased” Twitter nobody, show you the difference between the two character limits. Perhaps it will help clarify which side of this crucial debate you fall on.

(The example tweets that follow are not real—except when specifically noted—and are humorous fictions created by me to make points. I truly hope no one writes tweets like these).


140

got a sub and encountered the worst service ever. sandwich makers got 80% of my topping requests wrong. I’m looking at you #subway #yousuck

280

Worst subway service ever today. Wanted to get a sub with: rotisserie chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos, cheddar, ranch.(don’t judge) Sandwich makers were so terrible that I left with this: chicken breast, lettuce, onions, jalapenos, swiss, mayo. #Sendhelp #yousucksubway

Verdict: Both feature sandwich-related, tedious, mind-numbing complaints, but at least the torture ends sooner in the first one and we aren’t stuck reading sandwich toppings like idiots who have nothing better to do.


140

Saw the most amazing, life-affirming thing today. Things like this give me reason to believe in the goodness of people again. #lifeisgood

280

Saw the most amazing thing today. A young kid, no older than 5/6, single handedly jumped over a bus, rolled under oncoming traffic, and sprinted across a park to feed a homeless dog a cheeseburger. Wept at the sight of these miraculous and impossible feats. #inspired #hungrynow

Verdict: In a case like this, there’s not enough space in 140 characters to tell you anything. People often revert to using a long and sometimes confusing string of individual tweets to tell a story. 280 definitely offers more space for us not to be left desperately wondering about the intentionally vague “life-affirming” event (which turned out to be pretty amazing, huh?).


And now, my main reason for having a stake in this at all. Doubling the character count would make any Donald Trump tweet twice the length. Think of all the additional bullshit he’ll be able to squeeze in now to educate the American Twitter-using public! I know we’re all breathing a sigh of relief at this.

140 (A real tweet from 2012)

Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart. She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again–just watch. He can do much better!

280 (This splices together a variety of his insightful thoughts on the issue.)

Everyone is asking me to speak more on Robert&Kristen.I don’t have time except to say “Robert, drop her, she cheated on you & will again!” The relationship is permanently broken. If you saw the Miss Universe girls you would reconsider.Be smart, Robert. Everyone knows I’m right.