I’ve been using Twitter for just about six years now, someone on Twitter informed me. Naturally. There are quite a few things that I’ve enjoyed about the service over the years, including the ability to connect with people all over the world in real-time.
But do you know what I appreciate about Twitter the most? Ushering in the notion of “brevity” for the entire Internets. Not sure what it means? Check it:
I tend to talk a lot, yes I’m a rambler. When I’m super passionate about something I immediately want to talk to whomever is around me about it. It doesn’t mean that they’re interested, it just means that I’m excited. When I use Twitter, I can say random stuff, poignant things or anything in between and sometimes I get a response. It’s like…magic.
The real reason why I get responses to things I say on Twitter is that the service forced me to introduce brevity into my arsenal. Yes, the fantastic world of keeping things short and compact, allowing people to let it run through their brain quickly and fire out a response if they like. Some people haven’t gotten the knack of the whole Twitter thing yet, linking to longer blog posts all of the time or simply using it to spit out links or images. That’s cool, but I feel like it’s missing the true spirit of Twitter.
I tend to get upset when people build things to take you off of networks, be it cross-posting from Facebook or linking for the sake of linking. I like Twitter the best when everything is contained right in my little stream, ready for me to interact with. I can favorite something, reply, retweet, view an image or a video and interact rapidly.
Brevity makes all of that happen.
The 140 character “restriction” was originally introduced because that’s how long a text message generally is. Well, 160 characters, but 140 after all of the extra username junk. I remember way back when six years ago, people complained that 140 characters was simply not enough to make their thoughts heard. This was of course folks just fighting back to save what they’re used to and comfortable with.
Email made people gabby. The fact that you could write an email as long as a book, people go ahead and ramble and ramble, just like I do in real life. It’s horrible. But what I’ve noticed since the launch of services like Twitter and Facebook status updates, people are starting to communicate in a more compact and efficient way. All of the wasted crap is dropped to the side.
Brevity is winning.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for long conversations, because that’s when creativity and love comes out in us. I love sitting down at a bar or coffee shop with a startup founder and listening to their story. However, when someone randomly pitches me via email, I can’t stand thirty paragraphs. Twitter has taught me to be concise and to value the very few characters I have at my disposal. My own emails have definitely gotten shorter.
Remember, on Twitter, you don’t have to tweet to get a lot out of using it.
Twitter has actually affected how I communicate offline as well. For example, I’ll tell someone about something I’m interested in, but I’ll preface it with “If you’re not into it, just let me know. It won’t hurt my feelings.” By being more thoughtful with their time in this way, I save both of us from an awkward long yap-session that I’m known for.
The moment that I truly understood Twitter was when my friend in Philadelphia Alex Hillman sent out the fact that he had an extra ticket to see Foo Fighters on Twitter. I saw it as I was about to get on a train and hopped right off. We enjoyed the show together.
That efficient communication gave us a bunch of time to talk about technology, music and life. I thank Twitter for that, and for Alex’s brevity. And yes, this post was ironic.
(TL:DR Twitter makes me talk less, listen more and it works.)
[Photo Credit: Flickr]