For not being a high-tech person, I’ve adapted pretty well and learned to use a smart TV, a smart phone, even a smart watch that offers to call 911 when it thinks I’ve taken a tumble.
The most trouble I’ve had is with texting abbreviations, and I’ve learned to my chagrin that LOL doesn’t mean lots of love.
I’ll even admit to misspelling words in a text. Besides being a bad speller, I find those letters are small, my fingers clumsy, and I don’t stop to proofread before I touch send, or sometimes I accidently touch send when I haven’t completed my thought.
What has bewildered me lately is negative texting interpretation. I read an article in a writers’ newsletter where a mother texted her high school-aged son a message about when he was coming home from school. When the teen arrived home, he wanted to know what she meant by her text.
“I meant what it says—see you later.”
“But you ended with a period!” He thought she was angry with him because she had used a period to end the sentence. He wondered what he’d done wrong.
How did using proper punctuation in a text mean the sender was angry with the receiver?
In that article, psychology professor Celia Klin says a period can set a tone. She even ran a study of undergrads with the word Yup without a period and Yup. with the period. Turns out the majority of surveyed students thought the Yup. with the period was more negative, less sincere.
These are responses to the writer of that piece about using a period in texts:
- “I actually really don’t like getting text messages that end in periods because it always feels so hard and passive-aggressive. Like, are you mad? What’s going on? Like, did I do something wrong?”
- “If it’s like ‘OK.’, that’s like, I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”
- “If we’re just talking about, like, our favorite movie or something, and someone uses a period at the end of a sentence, I’m not gonna take it, like, aggressively.”
My first grade teacher is turning over in her grave, and I’m tired of all the perceived slights. How can some people think the simple innocent period is aimed at their self-esteem? Why look for ways to take offense?
The period controversy reminds me of the two wolves legend, attributed to various Native American tribes and told as a story of a grandpa talking to his grandson.
“Inside you, inside me, inside all of us, two wolves are fighting,” the grandpa says.
“One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
“And the other one?” the boy asks.
“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
“Which wolf will win the fight?” the boy asks.
“The one you feed,” the grandpa says.