Thursday, June 25, 2009

Twitter, I have a reque

Sometimes I go for weeks, even months, without blogging. The reason is that I simply can’t think of anything funny to blog about.

Witness the news recently: another market downturn, leading to speculation that the recent run-up in stocks was simply a tease; the death of Ed McMahon, a Chicago police officer getting probation even after a YouTube video of him BEATING a helpless female bartender went viral; the political unrest in Iran, beamed around the world via the microblogging site Twitter.

Wait a minute! Did I just read that Twitter was being used to get information out of Iran?

That’s brilliant! It’s historical. And, if you’re a comedian, it’s also slightly amusing, particularly when there are some who feel the creators of Twitter deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for their application.

Obviously there is nothing humorous about election fraud, brutal government crackdowns and women such as Neda Soltan dying from gunshot wounds simply after having the courage to express their opinions.

Iranians living under the cloak of repression and dictatorship are finally taking a stand by using technology, in this case Twitter, to tell the world what is REALLY going on in their country. Problem is, Twitter limits their thoughts, expressions, beliefs, etc. to 140 characters or less.

Note: Prior to this paragraph, I had typed 1,162 characters. I could have shortened it to 969 if I had omitted spaces (which Twitter counts as characters) but that would be difficult to read. I’m sure Iranians are frustrated by the “one space equals one character” rule as well. Face it, tweeting “presidentahmandinejadgottwothousandvotestinmyvillageeventhoughonly27peoplelivehere” would be incredibly time consuming to decipher.

I guess limited free speech is better than no free speech at all. But when an application limits freedom of speech to 140 characters, is that really free speech?

I don’t want quick blasts of information coming from Iran; I want lengthy diatribes. When, as President Obama says, “the world is watching” the Iranian situation, I want details. I want essays from the Iranian people. I want blogs. I’ll take emails even if they contain the subject line “SPEAK SOFTLY BUT ALWAYS CARRY A BIG STICK!”

Twitter is being praised for rescheduling maintenance so Iranian people could continue tweeting. Bravo! Now how about temporarily lifting the 140 character rule as well?

I have already debated this with friends who feel Twitter is the greatest computer application since Tetris. They also feel 140 characters is more than enough to express whatever thoughts are rolling around in their minds.

I invite anybody with a similar friend to send that person an anonymous, incomplete message via Twitter. Here are a few messages that top out at exactly 140 characters. Feel free to copy and paste them into your next tweet.

Ewwwww gross. Found live rat in kitchen today. Chased him away but not sure if he's still in house. Whatever you do, don't open the main

Greetings from the lottery office! We have traced the winning ticket to you and it may be redeemed today only between nine and five at 12375

Hi! It's Meghan. I have a suite at the Ritz and a bottle of chardonnay chilling. PLEASE come visit me. Just knock three times on room #

May God bless the Iranian people. And may they continue to have the courage to state their beliefs, without counting letters.

About Greg Schwem

Greg Schwem is a nationally known corporate stand-up comedian and business speaker. Please visit his website by clicking here. Contact him via Twitter by clicking here

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