In the mid-2010s and 2020s, the service “Twitter” was a popular method for celebrities to share short messages with their followers. It had the unusual property of requiring short posts (originally only 140 characters). This was originally due to ancient historical limitations on sending messages (called “SMS”es) over phones, but a slightly-increased limit was preserved for nostalgic reasons.
Unfortunately, it turned out that encouraging people to winnow down their messages to the shortest and most inflammatory snippets was not necessarily a great way to encourage quality discussion.
A new service with the tentatively Twwwwwwwwwwtly, with ten “w”s instead of just one, would be the opposite of Twitter: instead of requiring comments to be under a limit, it would require that each post be over a limit. In this case, we would start by requiring that all posts and replies be at least 2800 characters (10 times the 2022 Twitter maximum).
Here’s what this looks like in practice:
A normal Twitter-style post:
Hey I saw a dog today and was like “lol what an ugly dog” but then I realized I was looking at a puddle and it was my own reflection (132 characters)
The same exact post, but in Twwwwwwwwwwtly format:
ESTABLISHING THE SCENE: I was walking along the road. There was no traffic. It was mid-morning, perhaps 11 AM, or maybe 12. I was in a country where people drive on the right, and was also walking on the right side, which is apparently not advised, although it’s a bit counterintuitive. It had rained the previous night, and the sidewalks and the streets were still wet. There were a number of puddles in the low sections of the road (caused, I am told, by a combination of heavy trucks and poor road maintenance. Incidentally, apparently cars are negligible when it comes to road wear, which is not at all obvious to a human, to which an 18-wheeler and a passenger car seem roughly equivalent).
PROLOGUE: As I walked, I looked around. This served both to alert me if any cars were coming (I was, as previously mentioned, walking on the right side of the road with the traffic) and to allow me to take in the scene. What a crisp day, I thought to myself. I marveled at my good fortune to, at this moment, be experiencing such a joy of this existence. I wished that everyone could have this opportunity. Perhaps they did? Who, truly, can say. In any case, it was a fine experience indeed. The cold weather reminded me of fall, specifically of my childhood in Ohio, where the trees had a very specific smell. Maybe the trees smell that way everywhere? There certainly was an “autumn” feel to it, anyway. As I walked, I noticed the number of puddles, and how strange everything looked in the reflections, almost as if I was seeing through into another world, some sort of parallel universe, perhaps. I idly wondered if, maybe in that universe, we had lost World War II, or perhaps the Battle of Agincourt had gone the other way, or maybe even the dinosaurs had never gone extinct.
ACT I: As I looked into the puddles, I thought the images therein would make for a great image, maybe in a watercolor or something? But then I realized that I had never really learned how to paint. Was it too late? Maybe not, but then, did I really want to spend the time painting? Especially now that, it seemed, at least, that computers were able to conjure up any image on demand: “Computer, paint me a watercolor in the style of Winslow Homer, it should evoke the feeling of melancholy and of the longing of a forgotten and perhaps never-real autumn of one’s youth.” Would we have to just give up on humanity entirely if such a painting could be created? Or would it be merely a parlor trick? I doubted that we were more than a few years away from such a creation, yet it vexed me that my phone still couldn’t even reliably filter out telemarketing phone calls. Was this the 21st century version of “they can put a man on the moon, but they can’t XYZ,” maybe? Probably.
THE INCIDENT: As I walked, a car drove by, through one of the puddles, leaving a distorted image of rippling water. I walked close and looked into it, and was startled at the image of a hideous dog wearing a red dog vest. As the water ceased to ripple and the image cleared, I realized that the image was, in fact, me. I laughed at my earlier uncharitable evaluation of the canine. (3133 characters)
The improvement is so obvious!
The results speak for themselves, so no additional elaboration is required.
PROS: Might lead to a renaissance of stream-of-consciousness literature.
CONS: Phone keyboards are a bit annoying to type on, so 2800+ characters might be more than people are willing to tolerate.