In 140 characters or less, explain the meaning of life

I’m worried.

I woke up this morning at about 4.30am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I realised – and this is something that has been gradually dawning on me – that I have started to think in 140 characters or less.

Since starting on twitter almost exactly one month ago, (and becoming ever more of a geek, according to my wife) I can’t help thinking about all things in my life in terms of the 140 characters of the twitter update. It’s a worry, especially when the Chinese government has officially recognised the new disease of internet addiction. I guess this was probably preceded by my obsession with starting every sentence with “Simon is…” after two years of facebook, not to mention constant attempts to make my Gmail chat status witty and urbane.

And yet I’m sitting here writing this, my first blog post (oh oh, another obsession in the making) and I’m starting to think that maybe it’s not a problem at all. How often do you receive a sales email that goes on for two pages that you delete after 2 sentences? How much advertising copy is so drawn out as to bore the pants off you?

In my opinion, Twitter not only keeps you plugged into the thought processes of people you respect in your industry, interest group, whatever, but it teaches you to be concise and to the point. It forces you into writing short, sharp and clever copy to impress your peers and attract new followers. And I don’t think that’s too bad a thing at all.

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17 responses to “In 140 characters or less, explain the meaning of life

  1. Just to start things off, I’d like to point out that I do recognise that there is a certain irony that I have chosen blogging as a way of developing ideas that I don’t have room or time to develop on twitter 🙂

  2. I agree that it is good to be concise in your thoughts and be able to convey your message without being superfluous or redundant or repeating yourself. I apologize for the joke, I just couldn’t resist.

    The down side to Twitter that people start using SMS style writing and eschew proper grammar for the sake of filling their character limit with as much as possible. “i lose respect when i see a msg w/ shortened words”. Don’t get caught in that trap. Sometimes it’s okay to make two posts, or even link to your blog 😉

  3. Welcome to the blog world. As a writer I’m learning a lot of things about myself, 140 char is really a big thing.

  4. Welcome to the world of blogging. I have to admit that I was blogging before I was twittering and since I’ve started twittering, I don’t blog as much. I think 140 characters is more than enough to express most of what is happening at any given time.

  5. You too?!?! I wrote a post in less than 140 with a link at the end expecting it to automatically shorten itself. When I realized that article was in twitter form, I apologized, gave an explanation and posted pictures with details. I keep switching gears.

  6. Simon,

    I can totally relate to your 140 character thinking disease (If you want to call it that). Even though I haven’t been part of the Twitter community long, I’ve already noticed a shortening of my thought process and a conciseness to my sentence structures. Crazy stuff!

    By the way, great post and I’m totally stoked to be a part of your new blog! 🙂

  7. Congrats on your first blog post, Simon. I’m a newbie on Twitter as well, but I too have enjoyed the challenge of conciseness. Short, sweet, and to the point!

  8. What I do a lot of times is post on my blog about thoughts/conversations that developed on Twitter. It gives you another format to expand your thoughts. Nice first post!

  9. I completely agree that sometimes being forced into saying what you mean with fewer words can be a great idea. I haven’t quite started to think in 140 characters or less (I’m a talker so this would be impossible) but I do notice that now everytime sometime happens or I see something or read something I want to Tweet about it. Example yesterday I saw gas for $2.04 (!!!!) which is unheard of in the Bay Area I thought and I wanted to pull over my car on the highway and take a Twitpic. Ridiculous.

    p.s. Happy blogging!

  10. I agree twitter encourages and rewards clever brevity and helps me focus on the vital essence of what I wish to say.

  11. A friend just gave me some friendly advice to maybe consider not hawking my blog around until I have a decent amount of posts and I think there’s some truth in this.

    But when is the right time to start telling people about your blog? 2 posts? 20? 100? Maybe that’s going to be the subject of the next blog.

    Well I’m glad I did, as all you guys have left some valuable comments, plus a load of people are now following me on twitter. Bonus!

    Oh and thanks!

  12. In response to your headline…

    Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

    John Lennon said it best.

  13. David, Cheers for the comment and will be in touch on twitter when back from Chile!

  14. larzini: that is awesome

  15. The Internet addiction is not yet in DSM-5 no worries 🙂 -maybe this is an excuse for an amazing Internet geek as I am, but well, that’s the International standard for addiction review-
    Have fun mate

  16. @siburgess79: Thanks, it was a good excuse to check the accuracy of one of my favorite quotes.

    I agree with your last paragraph regarding brevity and staying on point. Use of twitter may make us all effective communicators. There is a time for lengthy prose and long form storytelling, but it’ not the conversation we need when we need to find our 4 year old the nearest restroom.

    I sometimes have a tendency to ramble, and even though I may consider most of it as genius, in rality it’s probably not the case. Communicating in 140 characters will make us more aware of these things. We’ll expand upon things when appropriate, and not at every given chance.

    RE: your blog. Tell people about posts instead of about your blog, until you have this body of work you’d like to show off. Use trackbacks at other blogs if your post is related and continues the conversation. And just comment at other blogs, people may click on your name and check you out. When everyone screams,”I HAVE A BLOG!” at once, we all lose.

    I don’t get a lot of readers at my blog, but it was never really meant to be a check back here every day thing, as it was an outlet for writing. But by creating it, I have found ideas and come up with new directions for things I am involved with.

    Sometimes you just do, and things happen.

    Enough rambling. Good luck to you.

  17. Pingback: Possibly the biggest understatement of the century? « Simon Says…Stay Social

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