twitter and texting linguistics

So, we all know that twitter is notorious for having a character limit of 140 characters, which isn’t much at all. But, with the talks of doubling the character limit, what does that do to the line?

The benefits of having it at only 140 characters means that users get straight to the point, forcing their ideas to be clear and concise and worthy of the attention of their followers. I think this is similar to what we do as poets, and connects to what we had been discussing in class about making the words we use have impact. If we were to follow a prompt that limited how many characters we used, how would we use our words differently? Would it make a difference if we took the same poem and allowed ourselves to double the character count? I believe that this would result in two very different poems, however they would still be related. I believe that the poem with less characters would get to its point quicker, and would have less “fluff”.

Similarly, with texting and technology, I believe our communication is abbreviated to get thoughts out more efficiently. The point of texting is to communicate quickly, forcing us to get information and “lol”s out by abbreviating and getting to the point. It also gives us a specific audience every time we send a text to a singular person or group of people. It utilizes vernacular and diction that is unique to culture and context, much like our poems do. Also, the texting “line” is predetermined by the amount of space we have on a screen, and the lines are usually divided for us, depending on what kind of phone or device we are using. I think this coincides with Twitter’s 140 character system in that it’s predetermined by others, and forces us to conform to the space allowed, much like a prompt we might do in class. What would we do if we had more control over how long our texting lines were? Is this the question we ask ourselves every time we write a poem using a prompt versus a free write?

3 Replies to “twitter and texting linguistics”

  1. This is a really interesting connection to modern means of communication. It means that we get right to the point, but we have to think about /what/ we’re saying online for these social media platforms. A poem gets to the point because there’s a sense of artistry in concision. But texting culture and social media tends to revolve around colloquialities (not a word but I’m using it).
    Think about the love letter. It’s beautiful, praises the reader, and lets them know how the writer feels. Nowadays, we get, “Hmu l8r, dtf, ily?” There’s an air of romanticism that’s lost with a shorter character limit.
    Maybe twitter will finally be able to romance me.

  2. Hmmm… writing a poem with a character count sounds like a fun prompt! In general, I believe that it is a good idea to keep literary works precise, as we have stressed before, each line should carry its own weight. Therefore, increasing the number of characters for twitter will stop people from getting to the punchline faster. One of my favorite parts about social media is the use of hashtags. Oftentimes, I think that the hashtags sum up the post best, even though they usually only consist of a few words. I think that hashtags force people to get super creative and to-the-point. In all honesty, most people don’t use social media for mundane details, they use it to see quick snippets of people’s daily lives, thus, each word must make itself useful. All in all, I don’t believe that twitter should increase its word count.

  3. I’ve never thought about twitter in that way before! I agree, the word count definitely means the writer has to be efficient and not use extra words. I think when I’ve written poetry, I always start out with a poem that’s much longer than it is once I’ve edited it. Just like in shortening ideas so they fit into a tweet, poets might sometimes shorten their ideas to get right to the point in their poems. I also like your point about the different language used in tweets and social media, specifically abbreviations. It’s very interesting that while texting, I might say “lol” all the time. But I very rarely say it out loud, and in poetry or writing, I also rarely use it. Through that, you showed how it doesn’t just matter how many words or how much space a writer has, but also the situation and context of what they’re writing.

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