Wick Communications

The period is dead

In Writing techniques on December 17, 2015 at 3:49 pm
An actual Clay Lambert text...

An actual Clay Lambert text…

Great. Now I look like a jerk. Dang. I did it again.

According to some less-than-rigorous research out of the United Kingdom, those of us who use periods to punctuate our texts are judged to be insincere, at least by millennials. Fantastic.

Actually, the research is a bit more nuanced than that, and I think it’s important. Researchers asked college students if they thought respondents to texts were sincere if they used a period for one-word texts. In other words, if you text me that you will miss dinner, you are liable to understand my level of offense differently depending on whether I answer “ok” or “ok.” The period makes me “sound” like I’m rolling my eyes, apparently.

I get it. Do you?

I think just as interesting is whether punctuation and its often arcane rules are simply slipping away because it is one more thing to type with our thumbs. I think it’s entirely possible that we will lose a lot of written nuance in the years to come in exchange for speed and convenience. It’s happened with food, music, reading… why not writing?

And what does this portend for longer written communications? There are many ways our writing changed over the years to suit the medium. We lost a certain flourish when our handwriting became typewritten pages. Emails dictated a still more informal style and brought us such symbols of vague meaning as :). Why should the text age be any different? …

I suspect this has implications for our newswriting that aren’t yet apparent. Great.

Clay

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