I never wanted an edit button
Twitter's genius was its spontaneity
Twitter at its best is (was?) immediate, unpolished, real. The spark of creation; the unfiltered moral urgency of righteous indignation; the timing of a joke.
Sometimes that’s messy. Sometimes you don’t quite nail the joke or you make a dumb typo or you don’t express your point clearly. That’s fine. You can try again, or you can move on.
For years, people would ask me how they, or their organizations, could be better on Twitter. And I’d always answer the same way: By describing the way a lot of really smart and talented people were bad on Twitter. I’ve seen so many people — professional communicators; *excellent* professional communicators — be bad Twitter by trying to treat it like a short press release. Tweets that read like a 140-character version of a one-minute floor speech by one of those congressmen you always forget is still alive, every syllable carefully chosen to demonstrate solemnity. Just boring, bloodless stuff. That isn’t a great way to communicate in any medium, to be clear, but it’s particularly ill-suited to Twitter. Use your voice, I’d tell people. You’re smart, you’re funny, you’re interesting, you’re a real person who thinks and feels and knows and cares about things. Just be that. Use your voice.
And sometimes our voice contains typos and sometimes we don’t quite nail the punchline. That’s the tradeoff. That’s the risk you take for the upside of something real — and occasionally special.1 And that’s something I think we’ll miss when it’s gone.
This is kind of a throwaway post, mostly a trial run of Substack’s interface. And also a way to get the first post behind me so I don’t overthink what the first post should be. Anyway, if I did things correctly, you did not receive this in your email: I’m serious about not clogging your inbox and don’t plan to push throwaway posts like this out. If this did get delivered to your inbox, that means I screwed something up. Please tell me, and accept my apologies.
The same principle holds for threads. The best threads are spontaneous, improvised. They have an energy, one thought sparking another. I’ve written (too many) threads, both pre-planned and “live,” and the live ones are messier, chaotic, typo-ridden, but also better in nearly every way. They’re also less easily commoditized by those accounts — you know the ones I’m talking about — that spring up out of nowhere and just relentlessly mimic every interesting new tweet form until we all get sick of it.