Why Don't Germans Tweet?

| Mon Dec. 23, 2013 3:12 PM EST

Why are Germans so resistant to using Twitter? My first guess would be that they're just smarter than the rest of us and have better things to do, but I suppose that's not it. The Economist proposes a couple of other possibilities:

Some have suggested the German language makes tweeting tricky. Germans like to make a point clear, experts say, though this seems often to call for protracted, convoluted sentences with multiple subordinate clauses that are inimical to microblogging.

....A more likely reason is Germans' preoccupation with privacy. Many recall the Stasi, communist East Germany's prying secret police which had at one point recruited or coerced 173,000 people to be its informants. This explains Germans'—and the Merkel government's—outcry over allegations of America's widespread electronic snooping.

Hmmm. The former West Germany accounts for about 80 percent of Germany's population, and there's no reason that any of them would have any deep-seated fears of Stasi surveillance. So I think the Stasi is in the clear on this one. That leaves only a more general distaste for public yammering. Does that sound right? Are Germans really more tightlipped than other folks? I wouldn't have guessed that, but maybe.

On the other hand, the structure of the language itself really does seem like it might be a problem. Learning to write in 140-character chunks is tricky enough in English. Still, I'd normally figure that the obvious response to this would be a more vibrant culture of abbreviation. But maybe Germans don't like abbreviations either. It's a mystery.