Last week Elon Musk announced the death of Twitter as a brand. He had the sign on the HQ taken down and replaced with a garish X, he axed the logo on the website and in the app too. Lingering longer was the “Tweet” button itself. Today the Tweet button briefly changed to Post, hinting that soon every evidence of the little blue bird and its associated twitter will scrubbed from the every place X, the company formerly known as Twitter, can touch.
But that’s not why I think it’s time to retire the “tweet.” I wanted to save it. I felt that it was clearly becoming independent of the brand that had adopted it. I argued we should call all microblog posts tweets to avoid this goofy cycle of toots, skeets, threets, and now xeets. But with every vestige of the name slowly being scoured from the social media landscape “tweet” feels increasingly part of a bygone era.
It was meant to be something brief. Something remarkable in the art of its conciseness. In a tweet Roger Ebert once likened the the 140-character blog to poetry due to its necessary brevity. Now if you pay enough you can have up to 4,000 characters in a Tweet, or you can get 500 characters for free on Threads, nearly five times Twitter’s original character limit. You no longer have to be so economical with your words.
But the real reason we have to stop calling microblog posts tweets isn’t because the microblog itself is slowly shedding its micro or because X is changing the Tweet button. We have to stop using it because I’ve really tried for the last few weeks since I called for us all to call them tweets and it sucked. “Hey did you see that Thread tweet” sounds sillier than “hey did you see that Thread post” when its a 500-character screed about someone’s Diablo IV build. Ditto for “Can you believe what that lady tweeted on Mastodon?”
So folks we are going to just have to stick with “post”. It’s not as fun, it doesn’t do anything to someone’s trademark, and it won’t as neatly explain a situation as “the President just tweeted.” But at least it’s easy to say.