The news broke today that Twitter is considering ways to allow users to write posts that are longer than its current 140-character limit. This is, obviously, a bad idea. Twitter with no limits is just blogging. Everyone has problems squeezing words into a tweet every now and again, but the constraint is what makes Twitter magical.
I'd argue that the constraint is the thing that makes Twitter so appealing to literary types, too. Most of my favorite writers are on Twitter, and they are unbelievably fun. The brevity plays out like a cocktail party: a few witticisms, some chatter about current events, and a little polite conversation. There may be a way for Twitter to handle long tweets that doesn't ruin this magic formula — if photos and links didn't count toward the 140-character limit, that would be fine with me, for example — but they'd better exercise an abundance of caution as they plan for the future. With all the ads and noise and celebrity on Twitter lately, I'm sure I'm not the only person actively looking for a reason to quit the service.
Sorry, that got pretty dark pretty quick. I've just loved Twitter for a long time now, and news like this is disheartening. For a lighter take on today's gossip, you can't do better than Eric Raymond's tweet:
"Haiku eyeing removal of 5/7/5 limits, CEO of Poetry believes the form will 'still hold up pretty good.'"— Eric Raymond (@pontiuslabar) September 29, 2015