Twitter: Shorter Is Sweeter


To end this week on a light note, I’ve been enjoying adverse reactions to Twitter increasing its character limit from 140 to 280. J. K. Rowling, for instance, wrote,

Twitter’s destroyed its USP [unique selling point]. The whole point, for me, was how inventive people could be within that concise framework.

Stephen King, meanwhile, dramatized the power of concision in his characteristic way:

280 characters? Fuck that.

The Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri, speaking for Tolstoy, has her own very funny take:

can’t believe I only get 140 characters -Tolstoy

Is there a creative writing teacher anywhere who has not assigned the haiku form to make Rowling’s point? The intensity of imagery and expression in a great haiku poem would be diluted with more words. Take, for instance, this haiku by the great master Matsuo Basho:

Autumn darkness 
on this road I travel      alone 

Of course, most tweets aren’t poetic. Nevertheless, twitter has a punchiness that can pull one in for hours. The good news: if everyone opts for longer tweets, perhaps it won’t be quite so addictive.

Speaking of short verse forms, here’s a limerick tweeted out by @Limericking on the character increase:

The character count that we knew
Was decent and proper and true,
But nothing can last,
And changes come fast,
So one dark November it grew.

To which a reader responded:

My two-eighty dream has arrived
More lim’ricks can now be contrived
More rhyming creation
With less limitation
Increases the pleasure derived.

Whatever your feelings about 140 vs. 280, @Limericking is a joy to visit. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a serious limerick–the final rhyme often functions as a punch line–and in this dark age we need all the humor we can get. Here is @Limericking turning its attention to the Russia investigation:

Paul Manafort getting indicted
Has many Trump-watchers excited
They cannot but notice
It’s leaving the POTUS
Increasingly thickly beshited.

And on recently indicted White House aide George Papadopoulos, who thought he was dealing with Vladimir Putin’s niece to get Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails:

It typically looks a bit bad
When one of the staffers you had
Pursued stolen email
Supplied by a female
Who claimed a relation to Vlad.

One more:

Bob Mueller, the fellow inquiring,
Continued his efforts, untiring,
So in a short while
We may see a trial
Or else a Nixonian firing.

Previous posts about Twitter

Tolstoy and the Forerunners of Twitter

The Brave New World of Twitterature

#TrumpBookReports (in 140 characters)

If Trump Tweeted Classic Lit Reviews…

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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