God bless the programmer who decided 140 characters should be the limit for the text message – and by extension – the tweet.
I can’t bear ramblers, droners or those who are “intoxicated with the exuberance of their own verbosity” as my mum loves to say. As someone who studied modern languages at uni and chose communication as their industry, I get a bit of a thrill when I hear a pithy phrase, a catchy tagline or a true conversationalist. Words can cause so much trouble between people that it’s very comforting to hear them used properly, which is probably why I love a good quote. It doesn’t have to be a highbrow utterance of Churchill or Twain – in fact, Chandler Bing and my wee sister are my two favourites. (I’ve honestly got a list of the hilarious one-liners Lisa came out with on holiday this year, the best of which was “Has anyone seen my towel? It’s pink. And absorbant.”)
Until I found Quotables, Twitter was the best source of quotes I could ask for – they’re so painfully up-to-date! Barely has a natural disaster or political scandal erupted and some erudite tweeter is on the case, enjoying minor and fleeting celebrity as his or her 20 word-or-less comment is re-tweeted with gusto. Yesterday it was all about Tony Blair’s autobiography:
- “Brighten up your day by moving at least one of Tony Blair’s books to the Crime section in your local book shop.”
- “Blair started to “drink more heavily than usual”, “a whisky and 1/2 a bottle of wine a night”. AMATEUR. Call that a crisis?”
- “Blair says fox-hunting ban was a mistake but at the time they were convinced foxes did have weapons of mass destruction.”
When the Icelandic volcano erupted only a year or so after the banking crisis I remember reading “Dear Iceland, we said send CASH” on several Twitter pages; you know the instant there are technical problems with Facebook when you start reading “Crops fail on Farmville, UK production levels soar” over and over and I know more bloody Justin Bieber lyrics than I will ever want or need thanks to the sheer volume of devoted tweeting fans.
Basically, inventing a short (120 chars or less), smart, humorous quote is one of the best ways to achieve notoriety on Twitter. But if, like me, you just aren’t that witty, you can always steal from the greats:
“I may be drunk but you, madame, are ugly and in the morning I will be sober.”
“Your best? Losers always whine about their best, winners go home and f**k the Prom Queen.”
Sean Connery in The Rock
“OK, you have to stop the Q-tip when there’s resistance.”
Which quote would you tweet?