Currently, Twitter has a pretty aggressive cap of 140 characters. Got an idea bigger than that, then you’re going to have to link to it. That’s why Twitter is now tossing around the idea of slightly expanding this limit to 10,000 characters in early 2016.
First, let’s talk about why this is a good idea. …Nothing? Okay, I think we’re done here.
Next, let’s talk about why this is a bad idea. Twitter is a social media platform that has put its entire weight into brevity. Those who want a larger canvas to expound upon their thoughts have other mediums like, well, “Medium” to use for whatever elaboration they feel they need. Hell, you can monologue endlessly on Facebook if the world just really needs to know your thoughts on gun control or third wave feminism or Donald Trump.
The whole idea of a “tweet” conjures to mind the fleeting chirrups of a passing bird. Why would Twitter want to throw away a cornerstone of their platform?
It’s a double-edged blade. On the one hand, some critics denounce Twitter because of the impossibility of expressing nuanced thought in only 140 characters. Everything is inevitably boiled down to the most re-tweetable set of clever buzzwords. On the other hand, many have embraced the strictures of Twitter’s limits and found fertile soil for genuine human interaction. Writers in particular really seem to love Twitter, and this is a counterintuitive phenomenon. Why would someone who makes their living producing mountains of words feel affectionate toward a platform that actively restricts them?
10,000 characters is roughly three pages of text. Western thinking often seems to lean on the notion that creativity is best fostered by freedom. We are fans of the blank page, apostles of the sandbox, defenders of the open world environment. However, there’s a strange relationship between limits and creativity. Whenever human beings are forced to play by limiting rules, that’s when they begin to get most creative at expressing themselves within them. What draws us to a service like Twitter is precisely its limitations, not the promise of endless verbosity, which has been available since Xanga and MySpace. And we all saw how well that worked out.
Re/code reports that this update, internally referred to as “Beyond 140,” is slated to arrive sometime during Q1 of 2016. Twitter isn’t dead-set on the 10,000 character limit as of yet, so this may fluctuate as the final update is rolled out. Either way, it looks like long-form tweets are going to happen whether we like it or not. Users will still only see 140 characters of each given tweet, but they will be able to click a “see more” button to get additional paragraphs.
What are you thoughts regarding Twitter’s planned move to embrace logorrhea? Is this the way the social media platform is meant to evolve, or is it a sacrifice of the service’s intrinsic nature? Let us know in the comments below!