When will "Tweet" become generic?

I’m keenly looking forward to time when if someone posts something on any major social media platform, it will be called a “tweet”. ‘Truth’ Social/Gettr’s UI/functionality are indistinguishable from Twitter. At some point, the word for posting something on Twitter, ‘Truth’ Social, Gettr, Gab, etc. will be aggregated into the word “tweet.” Like, kleenex or xerox. (We will thus thankfully avoid having to call Trump’s posts “truths”/“retruths”.)

This brand dilution will anger Twitter, obviously. But it will also anger Trump because his brand is being subsumed by his nemesis. It’s a win/win.

I promise you: it’s coming.


I enjoyed your tweet.


Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press Amendment 1 ( 1791 )

As a journalist, I’ve always been grateful to the founding fathers for the right to free speech. But I’ve learned the 18th-century idea of free speech was startlingly different from today’s – both in how we communicate and in what is allowed.

First, there’s the method I use to express free speech: Twitter. Fortunately for the founding fathers, theirs was a world of paper and ink. It seems to me Twitter is like the AR-15 of speech. It’s another animal altogether. To be safe, I decide to stick to the 18th-century version of Twitter: pamphlets.

I order a quill pen and parchment paper, and scratch out a dozen analogue “tweets”, one on each piece of yellowed paper.

I go to midtown Manhattan to hand out my mini-pamphlets. It’s harder than I thought. Most people skilfully avoid my gaze, looking at the pavement, the skyline, anywhere but my face.

Finally, I approach a woman waiting for the light to turn green and read her my tweet out loud: “I find it egotistical that we capitalize the word ‘I’ but not ‘he’ or ‘she’ or ‘they’.”

“Yeah,” she says. “I guess that’s interesting.”

“Do you want to take my pamphlet?”

“No, I do not.”

As mixed as the reaction is, it still feels better than the Twitter cesspool. Just seeing people face to face has a healthy effect.

Now I should mention one other thing: to get fully into the founding fathers’ mindset I was wearing an Alexander Hamilton costume. This is not constitutionally mandated. But I’ve found that there are advantages to dressing the part. The outer often affects the inner. With my tricorn hat, I somehow felt more dignified (even though I was mistaken for both a pirate and Napoleon – but, oddly, not Hamilton).

Back in constitutional times, there was another big first amendment difference: the content of speech was much more restricted. “Governmental limitations of expressive freedom were commonplace,” law professor Jud Campbell wrote in the Yale Law Journal in 2017. “Blasphemy and profane swearing, for instance, were thought to be harmful to society and were thus subject to governmental regulation.”


Ah ha! Of course it’s A.J. Jacobs!

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