Thursday, December 8, 2011
I’ve been reading about the “new” rules of writing. The big one lately is that you’re supposed to put only one space after a period instead of two spaces.
If you’re my age and you grew up back when actual typewriters roamed the earth, you probably find it nearly impossible to comply with this rule. Putting two spaces after a period is permanently ingrained in the same part of my brain as the sentence, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
As a matter of fact, I notice that even though I’m talking about it, I keep entering two spaces after the stinkin’ period. And I’m really trying to enter only one space. Argghh!
Why do the rules keep changing? Sure, I understand the argument about outmoded methods of printing and typesetting and monospaced fonts, blahbedy, blah, blah. What they’re telling us is it’s not only unnecessary to hit the space bar twice, but it's also a serious writing infraction.
Okay. But what does that extra space really hurt? It’s not like I’m using up so much extra space that I’m killing any additional trees, especially since my words are merely floating around in cyberspace rather than printed on actual paper.
Sure, there are times when I’m composing a real letter and there will be one little word all by its lonesome on a line, so I’ll delete some of the extraneous spaces to try to move it up with its friends. If absolutely necessary, I might even delete a word or two, but it’s pretty obvious that I like using a LOT of words and I don’t like getting rid of any of ‘em. But for the most part that extra space doesn’t really hurt anybody.
I read an article the other day wherein the writer was pretty adamant about the one space after a period rule. He even seemed to think it was a jarring experience for readers to come across that extra space – like they were so traumatized whenever they saw it that they simply couldn’t continue reading until they stopped and composed themselves.
Really? This is the problem? I don’t think so. I’d say that it’s pretty darn traumatizing to read some of the status updates on Facebook. Like…well, let me take a quick gander at ol’ Facebook to find you an example. Be right back…
Okay. Here’s one: Someone was wishing a group of people and their families a Merry Christmas, but the line was written “…there family’s...” Oh, happy day. For my dentist, anyway, as he will earn big bucks for fixing the teeth that I’m grinding down to pointy little stumps.
Or how about this one: “Life is to short to worry about thing’s u cant control. Everyone has there problems.”
How can two tiny sentences have so many errors? On the other hand, there was only one space between sentences, so I guess I should be happy about that.
Yeah, not really.
I would have been slightly mollified if the writer had at least spelled “their” correctly.
I think it’s interesting that despite the proliferation of cell phones, our communication has become much more written than verbal. We don’t call people to carry on a conversation; we text or IM or simply update our statuses on Facebook or Twitter.
Maybe our message reaches a bigger audience this way as it would be nearly impossible to call all 1,497 of your closest Facebook friends to tell them you’re next in line at Starbucks and can’t wait to get you’re too iced venti macchiato’s because you sooo need the buzz.
But, c’mon, people. Before we worry so much about the one versus two spaces after a period rule, why don’t we worry about the correct usage of to, too and two? (And a basic review of apostrophes and possessives also wouldn’t hurt.)
Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox now. But before I go, I’d better look this blog over one more time. I’m sure I have a lot of extra spaces to delete.