I don't understand tweet threads
Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 10:36AM

If I see a tweet on my feed whose text is preceded by a number, say 12 or 13, I know what's coming: a thread. Sometimes, I'll see a phrase that is meant to hook the reader, along with the invitation "read the thread." I suspect I am an old curmudgeon (although not an interesting one) or a crank, but when I see that, I think, "No thanks." When someone shares something over 2 or 3 tweets, it's not too bad, but I've seen some that go as high as 25.

When did this practice become so common? Isn't the purpose of Twitter to be pithy or concise? If we want to ponder, why not blog or use Facebook? It has me perplexed, and wondering a few things.

Do tweet thread authors sit down the night before and plan out their threads? Or are they more spontaneous?

Do tweet thread users feel strange replying to their own tweets?

Why don't they just write a blog post? Is it more likely that people will read tweets than blogs? Is this a symptom of our waning attention spans?

I'm positive my questions are not popular. After all, if everyone is doing it, it must be okay. However, as a lover of words and someone who likes writing, I can't help but view this from that perspective. Interestingly, Twitter doesn't even demand the user employ words. One could tweet entirely using Gifs if she wanted to and never have to come up with a word.

It really is harmless, but I'm really not a fan. Perhaps the manifestation is more about online conversation than writing. In that case, I am not inclined to read it. Some of that conversation simply devolves into nothing helpful.

In the astute words of Alistair Sim in Scrooge, "I am too old; I cannot change!" This could simply be me showing my age. One thing I do know: being forced to limit a word count is always helpful in writing. Being made to stay within a particular word limit forces one to think hard about individual words and how they might be employed to express something best. And limited words means the possibility of pithy language. Tweet threads may be helpful for some, but they make pithy very unlikely.

Article originally appeared on The Upward Call (http://philippians314.squarespace.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.