Twitter vs. Email: A Revelation

March 1, 2009 @ 3:37 pm | Filed under:

I was updating my contact page just now and found myself writing “for the fastest response, try Twitter.” I wondered why that would be the case—why am I more likely to reply immediately to a tweet or DM, but it can take me weeks, months even, to respond to my email?

(I know: weeks, months, that’s ridiculous. But if you’ve written me, you know it’s true. Oftentimes, the more important the email—the more attention I’d like to give to the reply—the longer the delay.)

Then I realized: it’s Twitter’s 140-character limit that spurs me to the immediate response. It’s short and sweet, just the facts ma’am. If someone has a question, I can answer it likethat.

A thoughtful and well written email is better than a quick tweet, of course. I’m not saying I’d want to ditch email entirely—heavens no. I relish a nice long letter from a friend or reader. I love writing nice fat letters back.  I wouldn’t want to confine my side of any correspondence to a tweet-sized box. But for a quick answer to a simple question? There’s a kind of liberty within the stricture of the form.

(Is that the same reason people are so fond of haiku?)

I had already fallen in love with Twitter as a source of quick answers. Throw a question into the twitstream and the answers leap at you like flying fish. Solid answers, too; keepers. But I hadn’t thought about the converse, before: that if you have a question for me, catching me on Twitter may be your best bet for an immediate answer.

I would love to explore this thought further but I have a boatload of email to answer.

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2 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. MelanieB says:

    Funny, but true. Perhaps that’s why my mother-in-law has taken to contacting me only via Twitter instead of email?

  2. nina says:

    “the more attention I’d like to give to the reply—the longer the delay.”

    Truer words have not been written about modern communication.

    Did you hear the NPR story about Twitter between Scott Simon and Daniel Schoor. It is well worth a listen. I need to figure out how to Twitter from my iTouch more often.