In an interdisciplinary study released this week by the Stanford departments of Linguistics, English, and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, researchers found it impossible to express a nuanced opinion in only 140 characters without accidentally including ethnic slurs, religious intolerance, or homophobic undertones.
“We took the 26 letters in the English alphabet and explored every 140-character permutation,” explained primary author Mike Schultz, “Unfortunately, we just couldn’t find an arrangement that failed to propagate some generalized stereotypes about groups like Italians or Native Americans.”
The groundbreaking research comes amidst an exponential increase in the number of users of the social media giant Twitter, where celebrities and 13-year-old girls alike have come under fire recently for controversial material posted on their accounts.
“Its not truly the users’ fault when they have so little room to work with,” said Schultz, “If you want to cram a complex political position into a mere 140 characters, you’re going to have to resort to some racially-charged language to do so. Even expressing enthusiasm for the release of a new movie is really difficult without somehow trivializing the plight of the lower class.”
Stanford University originally posted a link to the results of the study on its official Twitter page, but the tweet was removed after followers complained that it implicitly suggested less-than-progressive views on women in the workplace.