The comedy of Twitter’s 280 character experiment

I read somewhere that Facebook and Twitter were merging and they are going to call the new company Twit-Face. Those who use the service will be labeled Twit Faced, and when I look at my current Twitter time line, I see many who fit that description perfectly.

Yes, I do write my own material, but if I had to live off these efforts I’d be a starving artist and that’s why I haven’t quit my day job just yet. However there are a measly four and a half thousand followers on my Twitter feed, and if many of them are real people, then you could call me a leader of many.

Luckily for them Twitter limits the number of followers who see my jokes on their time line every time I post new material. This is because they want me to spend money on their channel in order to reach all of ‘my people’ and those beyond. When launched 11 years ago it was purely a social network, and at that time all my followers were subjected to my verbiage.

Over time Twitter changed tact in order to please the unsuspecting shareholders who invested in the future of the company as a media channel. At the start their owners were pleased to note that Twitter was the fastest growing social network, but today they are frustrated because the numbers have stagnated at 328 million subscribers.

As a potential starving artist, 8 zeros after a positive number is pretty impressive to me whatever the unit, so why all the fuss?  Well, the platform founder Jack Dorsey succumbed to the pressure and devised a strategy to attract more users which comes in the form of extending the character limit from 140 to 280.

That means that Tweeps will have more room to describe their breakfast, their pet peeves and anything else that tickles their fancy, and the social media channel can eventually attract those who have free range on Facebook and Instagram to do just that. The current formula on WhatsApp is that for every 10 people in a group there is 1 joker. I estimate that for Twitter, that number doubles, yours truly included.

The Twitter data shows that those who use latin script tend to run out of characters faster than their counterparts who write in Japanese, Korean and Chinese (I actually didn’t know that Chinese was a language). So rather than let those guys in the East have all the fun, they want to create an even playing field irrespective of the fact that brevity is the aim.

So, at the beginning of the week Twitter takes the character extension to test, and at the end of the week the legendary Hugh Hefner leaves us for the heavenly abode — or otherwise. Twitter was alight with Hugh’s passing, at least for a moment, and while a few of the comments were solemn and consoling, the majority were hilarious.

One Twit (sorry, is it Tweep?) asks whether Hugh lived in heaven and is going to heaven, and another quips that all he knows is that, like Bismarck, he believes that there are 2 things that you don’t want to see being made; those are sausages and Playboy magazines.



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