Like pretty much everybody, I communicate electronically much of the time. There’s a lot I love about this. It’s quick. It’s convenient. It lets me stay in touch with friends and family who live in other parts of the country—and even in other parts of the world.
But sometimes, electronic communication can lead to trouble. For me, one of the biggest drawbacks is that there’s no great way to express tone in writing. Hence the default to exclamation points to show that you’re happy…or excited…or even just that you’re being friendly or mean no ill will. When I look back at my sent texts, I always sound like I’m incredibly perky, thanks to, oh, about a billion exclamation points punctuating every exchange.
End your text in a period, and you can sound like you’re being short with your texting companion. Or even like you’re truly angry! Texting has given the period a whole new meaning, since people so often use it in texts to communicate that they aren’t pleased about whatever they just typed. It is sort of the texting equivalent of saying, “Well, fine, then!”
The worst is when your phone automatically inserts a period for you—especially after a one-word answer, which can already sound kind of brusque. Suddenly, an “OK” response to a relative’s invitation to a holiday gathering can take on a totally unintentional passive-aggressive feel…all because your phone decided to drop a period after a briefly-texted answer. After all, in texting, there’s a huge difference between
Am I right?
What else have you noticed about how texting is changing our language? Do you ever find yourself intentionally leaving out a period so that you don’t wind up sounding mad? (I do!) I’d love to hear your thoughts!