Last Friday, we talked a bit about how Twitter can make you a better writer. While there are hundreds of reasons Twitter can be a fantastic tool, there are just as many reasons it can be detrimental. Writing concisely is important - but so is writing to be read. A good writer understands her audience. She knows what words will make the most sense. He knows what kind of a tone to take while discussing particular concepts.
Unfortunately, Twitter seriously limits this ability of writers. When you're restricted to 140 characters, you end up sacrificing the "best" words for the "shortest" that have similar meanings. Tonal control disappears as your copy reaches the end of the text box. Many people begin to use SMS abbreviations in the interest of saying more within the restrictions of a handful of characters.
The popularity of social networking and buzz marketing has drawn many people to services like Twitter, and many of us have fallen prey to the traps I mention above. I definitely can't give you a list of 101 reasons, but here are my top five reasons why Twitter makes you a crappy writer:
- Being restricted to a certain message length encourages abbreviation - a habit that many of us carry over into emails and memos. Nt rele gr8 4 us n mktg, tbh!
- Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are completely ignored due to the casual nature of text messaging
- Using @ replies creates a habit of responding publicly to a private conversation - this can be fatal to your career in many cases
- The speed with which tweets are deployed to the masses bypasses typical review processes
- Once again, the causal nature of text messaging allows completely inappropriate updates - you would never send a memo on corporate letterhead about "the pretty bird signing outside"
I'm cutting my list off at five because, really, Twitter is an excellent tool that can improve your writing. It teaches you control over message length, which is an incredible lesson many of us still need to learn. At the same time, though, be aware of the dangers of adapting Twitter-esque writing habits in a non-Twitter environment.
These are just five habits and behaviors the new Tweeter should be aware of. What would you add to the list?