We’ve all experienced that heartbreaking moment when you have crafted a witty, thought-provoking, hilarious tweet. The best tweet you could have posted, catapulting you to overnight internet fame. Alas, all hopes of going viral are shot as you spy your final obstacle: the little red -1 in the bottom corner. You gulp. It is clear what you must do. Wincing, you press backspace on one character and your tweet crumbles before your very eyes, its foundations weak without grammar.
Or at least, Twitter HQ seems to think that’s what happening and have thus come to rescue us all with 280 character limits instead of 140. Hallelujah! We have been saved!
(Their press release sees this as a way for us to express ourselves better. I doubt that some of the people on Twitter really need to, let’s be honest.)
Except I don’t really care.
Yes, it is a bit annoying when you can’t fit everything you want to say in one tweet and have to shorten it, so I can see that whoever made this decision was trying to answer a consumer demand.
Thing is, it’s not that big of an issue. Twitter users may get irritated having to delete a tag or shorten a sentence but the whole point of the platform is to absorb lots of information in a concise format. I don’t want to have to read entire essays when I’m scrolling through my feed.
There are bigger demands for the site to update its users’ experience. Real requests vary from an edit button to more sophisticated regulation. How about a more effective way to filter inappropriate content? A better system for reporting abuse?
This isn’t the first time that social media platforms have created new and exciting features that no one asked for. Instagram decided that chronological order was inconvenient and ‘rigid’, and have recently “improved” the three-grid profile layout to four-grid. Facebook have a ‘stories’ feature which I don’t think my mum even uses. Twitter wins the award for most pointless alteration though, when in 2015 the stars changed to hearts. It’s baffling why they thought this was such a vital update but hey, I’m not in tech, what do I know?
It seems to me that social media likes to switch things up to look like they’re constantly improving and keeping up with their users. Instead, they’re tinkering around with their platforms to appear like they’re doing something, whilst neglecting the genuine needs of the public. Cyber bullying and harassment are a huge issue that companies ignore.
My younger sister is twelve and has her own iPhone, and I can’t begin to imagine what she has been exposed. My parents can’t monitor her online activity 24/7, although all of us have discussed the best way to avoid unwanted content with her. This is where the platforms are responsible for what is being seen. Even just filtering and evaluating whether tweets are hateful or abusive, then taking affirmative action to block that user makes online spaces much safer.
It’s time to stop fiddling with the fluffy bits of websites and make meaningful changes to our digital world.
What do you think about the character limit increasing? Which social media change frustrates you the most?