Do your words have weight or just heft?

Originally published at

It was a very long day yesterday for me. One of the things I like to do at the end of a very long day is to pull up my dog’s Twitter account and tweet out. It is entertaining, it doesn’t take much thought and since it is just a fun little thing to do to blow off some steam at the end of the day, tweets don’t really matter.

Do they?

Then I got to thinking about all those blogs out there, all saying the same thing. I looked at all my Google alerts that piled up on keywords that are so very critical to me keeping tabs on my industries and realized that most of the alerts pointed to the same articles, the same blogs, the same idea set that everyone else was having. Nothing new, no new perspectives on anything; the content was just in different places. For example, I watch the retail services industry. Paco Underhill wrote a book about why we shop, how we shop, etc. He published the first one over 20 years ago, polished this one off, threw in some new names, shiny new cover and published. Then, he got on the news circuit and now everyone is writing about his book. Paco this and Paco that. I don’t begrudge him, but while most of the news sites will review his book or interview him, most of the blogs take one of two stances. They are either impressed there is a science behind shopping or they are appalled by the degree to which we are watched and analyzed in pursuit of a buck.

Please stick with me, I’m getting to my point.

I could visit a hundred blogs and find nothing more new than what I found on the first one, yet everyone is writing thousands upon thousand of words about Paco. And most of them just parroting when someone already said. Sure, it gets Paco on a lot of Google searches and alerts, but at the end of a very busy day, I just don’t bother clicking past the first one or two. And I suspect most of us have very busy days.

So, back to me staring at Twitter’s “What are you doing?” screen and realizing that while I was doing a lot, I had nothing left to say. No pithy words, no opinions on anything in the news, no desire to tell the world what I was doing. And, for anyone who knows me, that would be shocking.

So, instead I tweeted out, “If you could only say one thing a day to everyone and it was 140 characters or less, what would it be? I’m going to try for one week.” What if everything we said was so valuable that we were forced to think about the weight of each word, the value of each character, the influence of the sentence? Would we have a well-crafted thought that was original and responsible or would Google just go silent as we starve it from it’s avaricious need for words? If I did it alone, would it make a difference, make people think twice and write once or would I just become irrelevant because I was no longer running with the pack? Would saying only one thing per day make me the purple cow or an invisible cow?

I don’t know, but I’m sure going to try. And, I encourage you to as well.

So, for the week of Feb 15 -21, 2009, anyone who wants to try the experiment, tweet out ONCE ONCE A DAY for a total of seven tweets. And make sure you use the hash tag #only140.

Think about each character, because that is all you can say. You can’t reply, you can’t explain what you meant. Each tweet should stand alone as the sum total of what you would tell the world if you only had 140 characters a day.

Give each of your words weight by using fewer of them.