Thursday, November 11, 2010

Can you say that in less than 140 characters please?

Get to the point, don’t use university words, eliminate personal pronouns and use punctuation. These are just a few of the tips given to those looking to perfect the art of writing in 140 characters or less, a notion prescribed by a little blue bird.

This bird is quick to notify you when you’ve stepped out of line and it’s warnings of over 140 character anarchy are signalled by an ominous red minus count that is received with irritated pumps on the backspace key.

This limited character space is accepted by the masses who use twitter to inform the world of what they had for breakfast. But what about those who want to use their tweets for something more, who want to break the confines that said blue bird has on what we say to the world?

We all know about TwitLonger, the way to post tweets when “140 characters just isn’t enough.” Critics have asked whether this form of cheating the system doesn’t defeat the purpose of the 140 character quota. To be honest I don’t think it does. There is no bird sitting high up on a perch counting your every character and it allows personal pronoun loving tweeters to continue to be part of the Twitterverse without having to post a number of broken tweets.

While TwitLonger may appear to be the Robin Hood in this tale of fighting for long versed tweets, it would appear that it has a few downfalls. For example, why isn’t it on Tweetdeck? After checking a few forums I’ve found that people are crying out for it to be added to Tweetdeck. I also found that people say they exclusively use TwitLonger to tweet. Wait? What is this feeling? I think I’m beginning to feel sorry for the blue bird.
People exclusively use TwitLonger to tweet? It’s alright to use it occasionally, but all the time? It’s after reading this that I change my view on the little blue bird and realise that he’s actually a pretty good egg. He’s like Poseidon in the Little Mermaid, for lack of a cooler antihero. Ariel thinks her dad is ruining her life by not allowing her to swim to the surface but actually, it’s because there is danger there. The blue bird and its communist rules about 140 characters is Poseidon, and here’s why.

With the number of social networking sites laid out before us increasing, we’ve become lazy. Sending messages no longer requires the foot of blue birds cousin, the carrier pigeon and the internet makes it easier on a daily basis to send messages to our friends in Pappa New Guinea. However, a site such as twitter intimidates some people because let’s face it, writing short concise verse takes a bit of wit, good English form and effort.

A site such as twitter comes along and leaves these people jolted. “But I’m not witty, I can’t shorten that. Or can I?” and in steps the elusive ‘LOL speak’ like the serpent in the Garden of Eden. “Oh but you can shorten the words”, says the serpent. I’ll be the first one to admit that I c’nt even rememba da days b4 LOL spk, but I am yet to use it in a tweet or a Facebook status update.

However, TwitLonger has made it even easier for these ‘some people’ by allowing them to write a tweet that goes on and on without ever needing to shorten the words and eradicates the need for LOL speak. Although there are those few who still use LOL speak in these seemingly endless tweets...OMG!

Short story writer Guy de Maupassant sums up this argument really well, "whatever you want to say, there is only one noun to express it, one verb to animate it and one adjective to qualify it." Therefore, the blue bird must be applauded for its philosophical mind games and its efforts to make us use our brains in an online world that says it’s OK to slack off when it comes to good English. There’s nothing wrong with writing well within one hundred and forty characters in acceptable English. Can you see how easy it is? I challenge you to enunciate like the best of them and fit what you need to say into 140 characters without taking a bite out of that lazy apple from the tree of complacency.

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