To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself. –Mark Twain
Last week Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted a blog that appeared to bid adios to the 140-character tweet, thereby distancing me even further from the social media universe. Though I admit to occasionally checking in on the digital traffic accident that is Facebook, I have never felt compelled to take pictures of my oatmeal and Captain Crunch breakfast or the new yak wool slippers I purchased and share them with the world at large. Nor did it ever occur to me to boost my media credentials by posting videos of crimes in progress on the subway instead of helping out the poor person getting mugged. I know, I know, I’m sadly out of touch with the zeitgeist, but what do you want me to say?
Twitter is a different story. Twitter–to my dated, disconnected mind–offered the only socially redeeming value emanating from the social media universe. It forced people to become better writers. To get read and shared on the site, tweeters had to actually take some time to ponder vocabulary, meter, and syntax in the construction of their tweets. Twitter was social media’s answer to haiku.
Alas, that golden age of social media literature is destined for banishment to some Silicon Valley bomb shelter as Twitter moves from haiku to 10,000-character novellas. But will luminous brevity shine again on the Web? Twitter’s abandonment of the low character high ground has, according to anonymous sources, touched off a rush among developers to seize the terse-verse position. Some of the projects reportedly in development:
Tweezer: A personal care site where ladies (mostly) could quickly trade beauty secrets in a Tweeze. With nail salons on nearly every corner doing $8.5 billion in business, promoted Tweezes from this industry should move Tweezer ahead of Twitter in ad revenue in short order, according to analysts.
Litter: We hope this one makes it out of beta. This site is dedicated to trash-talking, otherwise known as talking s—t, the four-letter word that will be the “tweet” of this site. Sports stars and their angry, potty-mouthed fans are sure to migrate to Litter in droves when Twitter goes long-form.
Fritter: Derived from “to fritter away one’s time,” this is the site for those social media junkies who remain attached to their devices and their social networks long after they’ve run out of meaningful or interesting things to share. Some classic “fritters” served up in only the first few days of testing: “I’ve got something in my eye,” “Bacon rocks,” “Yabba-dabba-doo!” and “d=qwe[9234qjnv l;keqw.”
Geezer: This hush-hush Facebook project was undertaken in an effort to lower the average age of users on its site by giving retirees another outlet for their unceasing grandchildren slideshows and close-ups of psoriasis outbreaks. To help keep Baby Boomers to the “Geeze” limit of 79 characters (for the current U.S. life expectancy), Facebook created an abbreviation for the three words that opened about a third of Geezes in early tests: DYR for “Do you remember?”
As one who fears change even more than having a stranger post a video of me snoring and drooling on the A train, I intend to uphold Twitter’s sterling literary tradition and continue to keep within the 140-character parameter. Twitter Traditionalists, will you join me?