The Writing of D. F. Lovett

D. F. Lovett's Blog

Enjoy regular thoughts and ideas, in web-log form, from D. F. Lovett. 

When Jack Dorsey Became Polonius

Twitter has changed, officially. Their limit of 140 characters per tweet is on the way out, doubling to 280 characters for some of its users. Apparently their endgame is for all Tweeters to eventually have twice the characters available for all tweets

Whether or not you like this change, the oddest piece about the Twitter announcement is the misuse of “brevity” in the official announcement. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, fired off a tweet seemingly written for the purpose of being too long. Too verbose. Too loquacious. The first 140+ character tweet in history, but also a study in redundancy, inefficiency, and poor copyediting.

The irony is that he ended the tweet declaring:

"And at the same time maintaining our brevity, speed, and essence!"

Now, I take no issue with his beginning a sentence with the word and. I like that move. But what strikes me as so odd, so inexcusable, is to intentionally write a tweet that announces brevity is maintained while completely disregarding it.

I could go on, but I don’t need to. The point is made.

Instead, let’s consider Polonius.

Polonius's death, as illustrated by Moritz Retzsch. 

Polonius's death, as illustrated by Moritz Retzsch. 

Do you recall the blowhard Polonius in Hamlet? The father of of Ophelia and Laertes, stabbed through a curtain by Hamlet (spoiler). If there is one thing Polonius is known for, it’s his declaration that “brevity is the soul of wit” while failing to ever be brief himself.

This business is well ended.
My liege and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad.
Mad call I it, for, to define true madness,
What is ’t but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.

Congratulations, Jack Dorsey, for failing to maintain brevity, speed, or essence, but for so perfectly channeling the famous Polonius.

(Also, for those of you who care, I tweeted about this.)

David LovettComment