Sinclair: 280 characters is too many



Isaac Sinclair

Twitter is the best social media platform, in my opinion.

It has everything. Pictures, information, the ability to interact with famous people, memes and the best reactions to events happening in the world today. Twitter is the ideal social media platform. And recently, it made a drastic change to how it operates.

An iconic part of Twitter was its 140 character limit on tweets, but now, it has expanded that character limit to 280 characters. It has doubled the amount of characters it allows people to use.

I am not in favor of this change. It decreases the amount of effort people have to put into their tweets and makes Twitter similar to other social media platforms instead of separating itself from them.

The character limit was one thing that set Twitter apart from other social media platforms, like Facebook or Instagram. Now they have taken a step closer to being similar to these other platforms by getting rid of one of their iconic features that made Twitter unique. It was a place for short comments about your cat, not long winded posts about your cat.

But some people didn’t like the character constraint. They wanted more characters and Twitter agreed with them.

I don’t think the character constraint was holding people back. I think it was forcing them to communicate efficiently. You had to figure out how to get your point across in a concise, quick way. Restricted characters made people more careful and creative in how they expressed themselves.

Making people focus and plan what they were saying online was a good thing. Words mean so much, and making people deliberately construct their tweets to 140 characters forced people to care about what they were saying online.

The increase to 280 characters is also a lot to read when Twitter is supposed to be a place of brevity. One thing I liked about Twitter is how easy it was to read and glance at everyone’s tweets. It’s too much reading for a social media site that was supposed to be about quick thoughts and comments.

However, 280 characters does have its merits. People have the ability to say everything they want to and it helps someone say more in one tweet. And it is true that Twitter found with 140 characters, 9 percent of their users ran into the limit, while only 1 percent of users ran into the character limit with 280 characters. But I think the increase of characters has moved Twitter away from its unique nature and moved it closer to Facebook and other social media sites.

Let’s be clear, Twitter is changing. It has added more places for news, its live streams sporting events, and it is the president’s favorite distraction from the job he can’t do. So this change isn’t surprising. Twitter is trying to remain as relevant as it can, and it believes this is one way it can do that.

I probably won’t tweet over 140 characters very often. The CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, said he probably won’t average over 140 characters either. That’s because you usually don’t need to say much more than 140 characters on Twitter.

At the end of the day, this change isn’t a big deal. Twitter hasn’t changed that much, and I predict most people will still average about 140 characters per tweet. I just wish Twitter had stayed true to what it originally was, to the shortness that made it unique.

Don’t worry. Everyone will still be tweeting. It’s just going to be a little longer now.