IN AN age where we abbreviate just about everything, it’s so damn hard to keep track of the most socially acceptable way to communicate.
Is ‘lol’ still a thing, or is ‘haha’ now the reigning symbol of fake laughter? How many ‘ha’s is too many? How many emojis are too many? Hey mum, did you know “WTF” does not actually mean “Well That’s Fantastic”?
Here’s the latest bombshell to hit the smartphone universe: punctuation is officially a bad thing.
At least, it’s a big no-no to end your sentences with a full stop.
Science says so.
A study conducted by Binghamton University has concluded that text messages ending with a period will make you look insincere.
In the experiment, participants were made to read short exchanges with varying use of the full stop. When the exchanges appeared as texts, the responses ending with a full stop were deemed less sincere than those that didn’t.
The head of the study, Celia Klin, said it boils down to the fact that texting lacks many social cues used in face-to-face conversations. Therefore, texters have to make the most of everything that is supplied to them — emoticons, misspellings, and apparently, punctuation.
“Punctuation is used and understood by texters to convey emotions and other social and pragmatic information,” Klin said. “Given that people are wonderfully adept at communicating complex and nuanced information in conversations, it’s not surprising that as texting evolves, people are finding ways to convey the same types of information in their texts.”
Full stops at the end of a sentence can also be construed as a passive-aggressive symbol, especially in abundance: “Look. No. I’m fine. Whatever. Don’t worry.” Plus an equally passive-aggressive smiley face tacked on for good measure.
Linguist expert Mark Liberman told New Republic that a full stop could lead the recipient to think something was wrong.
“In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all.
“Choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. What they infer, plausibly enough, is something like ‘This is final, this is the end of the discussion or at least the end of what I have to contribute to it’.”
It seems judging people’s grammar is one of the last permissible prejudices. Just last month, dating app Zoosk provided news.com.au with a series of dos and don’ts when it comes to online dating. They said spelling errors and shorthand were responsible for a 13 per cent decrease in messages.
At this stage, maybe it’s time we all throw our smartphones in the bin, and go back to the ancient days of dial-up internet and actual human contact. It’s the only way to end the madness.