Leave My 140 Characters Alone!

Twitter just turned five years old this month, but some people are already asking for facelift.

Last week, Farhad Manjoo wrote an article in Slate imploring Twitter to rethink its 140 character limit on tweets. He writes that Jack Dorsey, the architect of Twitter, created the 140 character limit to be text message compatible. Since text messages have a limit of 160 characters, Dorsey allocated 20 for a user name and 140 for a message. Manjoo writes that Twitter was envisioned to broadcast short, personal status updates – not necessarily to be the news distribution, chatter facilitating, pop culture engine that it is today.

Since Twitter has evolved and no longer relies on the text message character limit, Manjoo is in favor of raising the limit to at least 280 characters. He writes that the 140 character restriction “prevents meaningful interaction between users, short-circuits conversations, and turns otherwise straightforward thoughts into a bewildering jumble of txtese.” As evidence, he points to the ever-so-eloquent Senator Chuck Grassley and his incoherent tweets about everything from windstorms to nails.

While Sen. Grassley is not the only one who writes in nonsensical twitter dialect, the vast majority of Twitter users know how to type coherent 140 character messages. In fact, I would argue that brevity is the best part of Twitter. I really don’t want to read a book filled with long, run-on sentences about some wayward soul’s personal problems. Nor do I really care to see any more emotional song lyrics than are already visible on my news feed. Besides, an increased character limit would be incompatible with mobile applications, which already struggle to show three or four tweets at once.

It is my firm belief that Twitter’s 140 character limit should stay untouched. Leave the diatribes, rants, song lyrics, epic poems, and whatever else to Xanga and Myspace. Better yet, contribute to a blog – that’s what I do!

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