As much as I love Twitter, I have always hated the 140 character limit. Yes, I know. The limit encourages real time spontaneous sharing, light banter, and fluid commentary. I acknowledge Twitter’s role in breaking news of revolutions and natural disasters. I didn’t imagine where Twitter would be today when I started out with it but it’s a big part of my online identity now.
But aside from link sharing and instant access to the real time world events, it fails as a tool to communicate your thoughts. But then I was starting to get worried that people are losing their ability to coherently convey their thoughts. And I really like reading, reading a lot of words.
Yes, you can argue that when people don’t have the character limits, people write their inane thoughts even longer and you don’t have the patience to read through them. But think about it for a second. Anything that actually is worth reading is usually more than 140 characters. You can do a good witticism, one-liner joke in 140 characters. But are you aspiring to be a stand up comedian, sharing only witty comebacks and punch lines that will keep your audience entertained? Then yes, continue on with Twitter. I am not saying stand up comedians are not worthy of my attention. I love Twitter for other reasons besides satisfying my need for longer conversations and arguments with people I know.
Enter Google+. Looking at my stream on G+ this morning, I started to smile.
I’m seeing people writing out their thoughts and arguments along with sharing the links and neat graphs and other interesting pieces of information. People are responding with sometimes even longer comments. They are having a lively discussion. Mostly due to the fact that Google+ is displaying their real names, most people tend to be respectful and stick to the arguments.
I haven’t seen that anywhere. And I always wanted to. I am by personality a bit argumentative. Ok, maybe more than a bit. 🙂 I like to see people arguing in a logical or sometimes just passionate manner. It’s wonderful to see how things lay out and how they try to support or defend their ideas and thoughts. More importantly, it’s wonderful to see people still have thoughts and ideas long enough to merit a discussion in the era of short attention spans, text messaging, Twitter and email tools that make you keep it under 3 sentences.
So I see why Google is insisting on real names and banning everything else. But I don’t believe this is just all a matter of having your real name and a profile picture. There is something else in Google+ design that makes you feel differently about what you’re sharing and saying from your Facebook posts.
I try to keep Facebook as locked down and private as possible, not that I succeed at it. So I tend to share more private things on Facebook than on Twitter. But I rarely see people writing several paragraphs of commentary regarding budget crisis on Facebook. They do here on Google+. Maybe people feel like they have a safe place to share their thoughts (especially political or touchy subjects and let’s face it, those are the ones that make you argue) since they can control who exactly can see their content.
What about you? How do you feel about Google+? Are you happy to see that long form writing is not dead, or have you already checked Twitter a few times while you were reading this (long-form) post?