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Why I Love Twitter’s 140 Character Limit

I believe good things come in 140-character packages. In a single tweet, you can argue your case, share good news or link to something awesome. You can tell the world about your new toothbrush, your new product or your new daughter. You can even spam your friends with inspirational quotes, which they love.

Unfortunately, not everyone has jumped on the 140 character wagon. Judging by the Google results for “140 characters hate,” a solid chunk of Twitter users feel they can’t express themselves in such a small space. All I need is 20 more characters, they cry. Then I can actually say what I want to say.

I disagree. Strongly. And those online tools that promise to free users from the evil confines of Twitter by replacing words with internet slang or by combining multiple letters into a single character? Don’t even get me started.

Keeping Twitter in mind, take a look at this 140-square-foot house:

house1sized - Stikky Media
house2sized - Stikky Media

The owners didn’t cram in a canopy bed and a rocking chair then whine about the lack of space. No, they worked with the available square footage and chose furniture that fits. It’s a stripped-down, 100% functional version of what we’re used to, but it’s still a house.

In their perfect form (minus all the evil/garbled SMS speak), tweets are a stripped-down, 100% functional form of communication. They force users to realize that a 140 character limit is anything but limiting.

Constraints Inspire Creativity

Can’t fit your futon mattress in the back of your car? Put it on the roof or drag it behind. Can’t fit your message in a tweet? Find another way to say it. Move words around, refine your message or say something completely different. Character limits force you to actually think about and edit what you’re saying before you send it to the masses. More value equals more respect.

Constraints Make You a Better Communicator

The English language (and other languages too, I’m sure) contains a ton of useless words—just, really, perhaps, quite, that—that worm their way into our lives. Eliminating these words is an easy way to cut down a tweet without changing the meaning. Ditch the passive writing too, plus any smiley/winkey faces (grrrrr). If you keep this up in your tweets, it’ll become a good habit that’ll improve your everyday writing.

Constraints Improve Our Vocabulary

When space is limited, whip out a thesaurus and find a shorter way to say it. What’s good for your tweet is good for your brain.

Constraints Don’t Waste People’s Time

When’s the last time you read half a tweet and thought, “Awww geez, I just wasted 1.12 seconds reading about Spencer Pratt’s thoughts on Wi-Fi at the beach.” No, you read it, you sigh and you move on. Twitter is a no-obligation environment that you can jump in and out of as you please. Amazing.

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