Struggling to read more than 140 characters – Ella Henning

Reading Carr’s article “Is Google Making Us Stupid” strangely hit home for me. For the past couple of years, I have found myself genuinely uninterested in reading anything over a couple hundred words. When I was a kid I loved reading books, but now I can hardly get past the second paragraph of the first chapter of anything. I’ve thought about how it could be attributed to general laziness or the fact that I have to read so much for school, but I never considered that the way I interact with technology could be changing the way my mind works.

I started using Twitter in the middle of high school, just as a way to keep up with what various friends were up to. I wish I could say that I wanted to use it as a tool to keep up with the news, but I usually just scroll past it. While I do follow a journalist from the Human Rights Watch, I must admit that I rarely actually click on the articles linked to his tweets.

Because I am under the age of 28, my father naturally assumes that I am a guru at all things social media. This summer, he emailed me asking if I could write a tweet encouraging University of Cincinnati students to volunteer at a summer camp for inner city kids. The president of the university would then tweet it. I formulated something along the lines of:

“Looking for volunteer mentors to help underserved boys at PNC Challenge Camp this summer in July. Info & sign-up at

140 characters. It fit. Job was done. Whatever.

However, I was not the only one included in this email exchange. My know-it-all mother (who in fact does know everything) quickly pointed out that you always have to start with the benefit or most important information “or else college students won’t take the time to read it.” Her recommendation:

“Want to help under-served boys? Volunteer at PNC Scout Challenge Camp. Give an hour, a day, or a week. Go to

Apparently there are short attention spans even on Twitter, but I realized she was completely right (ugh). When reading we immediately want to know the most important information (even if it is only 140 characters long).

My twitter is on private so I had to screenshot my “thick tweets:”



Consciously Tweeting


I agree with Carr, that our society  is over saturated with information and because of this, much of that information can get lost. Which is why I believe twitter can actually be useful to the general public.

My twitter career began as a Junior in High School purely as a time waster, and for the expression of my over dramatic teenage mood swings.  Today I still use twitter as a time waster sometimes, but in a must more productive way. The main reason I enjoy twitter is its philosophy of “short and sweet,” it gets straight to the point, which then gives you the ability to decide if you want to explore more on the subject. Twitter also became very helpful when I was a abroad, I kept me up to date on US News, sorority events, Loyola News, and even hometown gossip without feeling totally overwhelmed.

My feed on twitter is mostly filled with my friends, sorority sisters, fashion designers, fashion editors, and CNN (Have to have a little hard hitting news). One of the designers I follow (Who I actually interned for over the summer) tweeted a link to the NYTStyle article about the behind the scenes of her fashion show, which was very interesting and took me to many other NYFW articles and tweets. I started following NYTStyle and  Vanity Fair. I searched one of our article writers, Nicholas Carr. I found many tweets linking the article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Through NYTStyle I went to the New York Times twitter and found an interesting tweet that linked an article to the privacy of the iOS8. I composed my own thick tweets, adding those links in the hopes my followers will be as interested as I was.

Through my composition of thick tweets I finally felt like I was using Twitter in an adult, profession, productive way, instead of just writing any random thought that popped into my head. Dibbell says that the length of the tweet doesn’t matter, its the form of a tweet. Because of the 140 character limit, it makes tweeters much more attentive and aware of the organization and word choice they use to get ones point across.

My twitter is on Private, which lead me to attach screenshots of “thick tweets.”