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280 characters is already making me a worse writer

Posted on 10 November 2017

Earlier this week, Twitter rolled out the ability to post up to 280 characters at a time to every one of its users, myself included.

This has already made me a worse writer.

I know they’ve done all sorts of research into this and don’t owe me anything, so this isn’t a complaint post. It’s an observational one.

Being limited to 140 characters at a time was, for me, a good thing. No longer having that limitation makes Twitter a worse tool, for me.


Few things have done as much to help me combat bad writing habits as Twitter’s old 140-character limit. Even with the advent of Twitter threads, which allowed me to go on and on, the goal of getting as much information as possible into a single Tweet remained. Unnecessary words and poorly formed sentences would be cut in an effort to fit the format. With greater brevity came greater clarity.

You’d think the fact I’ve already gone over the 140 character limit might make me see the value in removing it, but it hasn’t. When I look back at the Tweets I’ve made since the roll-out I see bad articulation and poor distillation of ideas. I’m serious when I say I would like the option of returning to the 140 character limit and only going to 280 when I explicitly ask for more.

Antoine de Saint-Expupery wrote, “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” He was right, and it only took him 105 characters to say so.


Filed under: writing

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