Susan Wright noted that Twitter has now granted its users 280 characters. There are no words to explain how awful this is.
As Exhibit A, I present to you this:
Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2017
That’s four full lines of presidential gobbledygook. And he still had 65 characters to spare!
My reaction to that was . . . succinct:
If I wanted to read a book by you, I'd read . . . well, I guess they're all ghost written. Anyway, edit them down, sparky. https://t.co/YXJpCcGsdK
— Patterico (@Patterico) November 8, 2017
I know it was succinct because it was 140 characters or fewer. (122, to be exact.)
There is no question that some thoughts can be presented only in long-form writing. Twitter is not the vehicle for all expression. I get it.
But I have found that there is a discipline involved in saying something in 140 characters. The editing process can tighten your writing.
I agree with Charles Murray, who says:
140 characters teach character. 280 characters teach slovenliness, self-indulgence, and every one of Aristotle's logical fallacies.
— Charles Murray (@charlesmurray) November 1, 2017
Years of brutally editing my thoughts into 140 characters has indeed taught me a sort of discipline. A habit of cutting unnecessary words.
That habit doesn’t always extend to my long-form writing, nor should it. But it’s second-nature on Twitter now, and informs my longer prose.
Developing the habit of forcing some of your writing to be punchy and concise is a good thing, not a bad thing. 280 characters is madness.
And, for what it’s worth, every paragraph in this post is 140 characters or less. I rewrote some of them to get them under the limit.
Isn’t that better than reading the now-lengthier spew of garbage we’re going to see daily from Trump? And the answer is yes. Yes, it is.