If you’re a tweeter or texter, you won’t need me to tell you that it’s not always easy to restrict yourself to just 140 or 160 characters.
It’s a bit like the précis-writing you may have done in your school days, when your comprehension of a piece of text was tested by asking you to produce a shorter summary, containing all the salient points, and generally having to keep to a fixed number of words.
Composing a tweet or text message requires you (or should do) to think carefully about what you want to say, so you get it all in before you’ve used all your characters.
The fun is spoilt somewhat by smartphones that let you keep on tapping away for as long as you like, but behind the scenes your longer message is still generally sent as a series of briefer ones, generally being reassembled at its destination.
I thought about this process the other day when reflecting on what can sometimes happen when one person asks another how they’re feeling.
Very often, up until the point of being asked, we may not really have thought much about it, so perhaps we use the process of answering to work it all out in our own head.
Of course there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this.
After all, isn’t this how psychotherapy and counselling generally works? A series of gently probing questions may help us make meaning out of mental mayhem.
When a friend enquires about your state of mind, however, they may not always have time for you to talk it all through.
Perhaps you need to give them the tweet-length version of your mood?
This, of course, requires considerable effort from you.
Making a brief summary is nearly always harder work than simply pouring everything out.
The process can be a useful one, however, and perhaps its value extends beyond producing succinct mood bulletins for friends.
Maybe it also has value when it comes to helping you work out how you’re feeling, just for your own benefit.
Try it, perhaps.
Next time you’re able to have a few minutes of self-reflection, see if you can boil down your current state of mind to the briefest of summaries.
It might just help you make sense of things.