Is the language of Twitter so brief it’s dangerous?
Best known as the author of “The Elements of Style,” William Strunk Jr. was famous for urging writers to cut out the excess. He hadn’t met Twitter yet.
Last week, two US Governors, Sarah Palin and Arnold Schwarzenegger, came under fire for shortening their Twitter messages to a point that they were less than clear. And everyone knows how clearly politicians address their constituency, ahem.
Yahoonews.com reported that Palin’s abbreviated Tweet went like this:
Re inaccurate story floating re:ethics violation/Legal Defense Fund;matter is still pending;new info was just requested even;no final report.
Schwarzenegger accompanied his Tweet with a video of him holding a knife big enough to fend off a polar bear (oops, wrong Guv.) Even his press secretary couldn’t explain why.
Tweet limits the writer’s commentary to 140 characters. That leaves little room to elaborate or even explain.
While the brevity might have impressed Strunk at first, it’s certain that the Master of Succinctness would have blanched at the resulting confusion. After all, writing well is a means of communicating, not obfuscating.
Even bloggers at the Christian Science Monitor poked fun at the politicos by compiling examples of political tweets in a post entitled, “Politicians using Twitter: Morons or visionaries?”
At Blonde Productions Group, a member of the Unleaded Group, we urge our clients to Twitter thoughtfully. Too much too often is annoying to followers. Deploy your tweets sparingly and save the planet.