I have long been aggravated by comma abuse in writing, and that goes for both the scattergunners and the stinges. However, rules are not straightforward, and when you have a flow between linguistic registers sometimes within the same piece, commas are infinitely tricky and controversial. Even that last sentence was, for several reasons. That one, too. And that one.
And that is all fine. Sometimes the final word on ambivalent commas remains with the nuance of the author. Annoyance should be reserved for those whose comma usage makes their writing undecipherable. Like James Joyce, and his Bloomin’ monstrosity in Ulysses (pun intended). Yes, art is art, but there is no excuse for punktuation in everyday usage. Let’s keep it civil, please.
But there is a more baffling punctuation trend that has crept up on the written word, and that applies to online communications. While accomplished and well-heeled wordsmiths judiciously place their commas, many now seem averse to the final full-stop in their online and SMS messages. It’s like one of those curious adoptions when all or a sudden, the neighbours have a brand new 11-year-old without any announcement or explanation.
Baffled, I investigated further.
Regrettably, I did not like what I found under the stone.
Apparently, the plain old period is now taken in some quarters to be an indicator of ‘abruptness and unfriendliness’. Already, I could sense that I had entered a world of medicated madness where hung-up inadequates self-harm about imagined slights.
And the wheels do not come off the wackadoodle derby dragsters just yet.
Apparently, when you have a positive message with the seriousness of the full stop, that is one volatile cocktail that would make Molotov bust a nut. It is said to be the juxtaposition of those elements that creates an intense sense of passive aggression.
Well I never. And there’s more.
Missives without a final full stop are ‘positive and more enthusiastic’, and those with a full stop, ‘less sincere, more abrupt, and less positive’.
Another ‘expert’, who was clearly making whoopee on a phat, freeloading research grant, has moreover concluded that with SMS messages, it is already evident that the message has concluded, so the final period is always superfluous. Consequently, including one must therefore hold ‘additional meaning’ or a ‘fall in intonation’. In summary, something ‘negative’.
Out on the street and down with the kids, I have since learned that full stops are only used by our youngsters to show they are ‘annoyed’.
Must be the period pains of the new normal.
Who would have thought that adding a full stop to the end of an innocuous message might trigger such a vitriolic and emotional response?
They’ll be wetting their boxers in Beijing and Moscow at all this baloney. If they want to rack up a few extra-judicial takedowns, there is no need for all the aggravation involved in smothering doorknobs. Why bother when the nation is preoccupied with mothering dour nobs?
And it is not just the entitled tits of the post-millennium who are sobbing into their teeth-furring, sugar-taxed energy drinks while sticking to the sofa in their underpants on a 4-day Runescape grind.
We also have all the seemingly erudite and switched-on social commentators, who have folded up and surrendered, pandering to the priggish paranoia that this point engenders. We ought to be folding up their degree certificates and presenting these to their spouses along with the spent shell casings of a 3-gun salute.
We can still say ‘point’, can’t we? Or perhaps somewhere in the world, a drama queen has just barfed up a half-eaten, gluten-free Prozac panini and screechingly self-combusted?
What a whole heap of turd. But this phenomenon is nothing new. If there is no hostility in their direction, our resident snowflakes need to invent it in order to cement their victim status. Others, who should know better (and probably do), are so shit-scared at being labelled ‘aggressors’ and ‘cancelled’ that they fall meekly into line.
Let the whining, gimpy Goths top themselves over the oppressive forces of correct punctuation, but we need those with a scantling of nous to lead from the front and get this world back on an even keel.
How I long for the days when words and facts held primacy by the scruff of the neck. When words and lexical content signified a meaning that could at least be sensibly debated.
Meanwhile, those crying over mere dots have revealed themselves to be infinitely dottier.
I wonder if they really understand the point?