Punctuation Problems: Do Periods In Texts Make You Seem Angry?
I punctuate well in my text messages (heck, I even punctuate well when I'm sexting). Maybe it's a sign of my age — most of my similar-aged friends properly punctuate text messages, too, while most teens and boomers I know don't. Regardless, I'm the one doing it wrong, apparently. In the new digital world order, placing periods at the end of text sentences makes you look pissed, Ben Crair at The New Republic says.
"I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce “'I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded,'" Crair writes. The humble period — one-time signifier of nothing so much as 'this sentence is over' — has gotten hostile.
Say you find yourself limping to the finish of a wearing workday. You text your girlfriend: “I know we made a reservation for your bday tonight but wouldn’t it be more romantic if we ate in instead?” If she replies,
we could do that
Then you can ring up Papa John’s and order something special. But if she replies,
we could do that.
Then you should probably drink a cup of coffee: You’re either going out or you’re eating Papa John’s alone.
Or maybe your girlfriend just cares about punctuation? Geez.
Crair said he's much more likely to send two un-punctuated sentences in separate messages than to use periods. This seems to be a common strategy. "Instead of periods, I hit return and text the next line ... when I want to separate a thought but don’t want my texts to seem like APA-style academic dissertations," writes Christine Cavalier at Purple Car. "When I text my friends, I try to convey the very casual timber of our face-to-face conversations. Periods and correct written grammar impede that effort."
I'm prone to separating sentences with the enter button also, but still use a period at the end of each sentence. Am I some sort of text message freak? Research says ... kind of. A recent American University study found college students use end-of-sentence punctuation 39 percent of the time in texts.
Come on, Gen Y! It's time to step up the punctuation game, if only so we don't have to live in a world of inferring relationship grievances from punctuation. I don't want that world. You don't want that world. It's just a double tap of your thumb. Do it for humanity's sake.