Periods are fine

Dear Mr. Reynolds,

About a week ago, we got into an argument on using periods at the end of text messages. I’d never realized that many people vehemently disagree with adding a period to conclude a message in a text. Since then, I’ve conducted empirical research and it is a near-universal phenomenon that ending a text with a period is a gesture of passive-aggressiveness and even rage. This assumption shouldn’t always be made

Periods can be used in the body of a text message to separate thoughts or sentences preceding the final sentence. Sure, one could abstain from ever officially concluding a sentence by just using commas, semi-colons, emojis or run-ons. However, most people I’ve discussed this with understand that this practice is more constraining than constructive. Wisely, nobody seems to argue for pure literary anarchy

Where my opponents and I diverge is the notion that any period that concludes a text message can rightfully be interpreted as hostile. The majority’s argument predicates this belief because the period is unnecessary in that context; they say it is fairly obvious where the text concludes, and the period’s presence is simply redundant.

Furthermore, taking the vast amount of time to add the period is avoidably demanding. The argument continues by saying that the commonly accepted lack of grammatical formality within the sphere of texting is violated with conclusive periods. In conclusion, this violation should be interpreted as an emotional declaration of anger or annoyance

Firstly, the period’s function is somewhat confused. The period’s purpose is to conclude sentences — nothing more, nothing less. If I wanted to refer to something in a text document, and I knew which number sentence it was on, I could say: “The rights to my unborn child are clearly stated in sentence 12,” the periods within that document allow the reader to count to sentence 12 and collect their reparations

Secondly, the argument that text is for maximum efficiency is absurd. Adding a period takes less than a fraction of a second. Nobody has an issue searching for the right combination of modern-day Egyptian hieroglyphics to communicate, but adding a period will throw someone off? Abstaining from adding periods is not really going to save you any significant amount of time, and if the habit carries over into your official writing practice, it is really going to hurt your grades or, you know, chances of getting a job

More importantly, the reaction of inferring a person’s anger because of a standard grammar rule is preposterous. One person said to me: “Look, Brennan, you sad man, you wouldn’t respond to something with just a ‘K’ or ‘Sure.’ Imagine how much more terrible either of those things would be with a period!” My response to my crass mother was that those statements are bad, but because of the substance of the sentence, not the period. If we’re not supposed to try to interpret sarcasm or tone over text, how could you interpret the truth asserted in the inclusion of a symbol with no substantive value at all? All I am asking of our generation is to judge me by the content of my characters, and not the placement of my punctuation

If you send multiple texts in a row, then how can I know for sure that the beginning of the next text is a separate thought and not an extension of the previous sentence? You can’t. If I accidentally send a text with the final sentence being “Grandpa helps al-Qaeda,” and then I send the next text beginning with “Opponents know where to hide,” you can understand what a conundrum we’ve gotten ourselves into. Does my grandpa help one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world, or does he fight for freedom? If only there were a symbol that clarifies the structure of the sentence

This phenomenon reinforces every negative stereotype regarding the “millennial” age group. We’ve taken a rule of society, for hundreds (thousands? I’m not a History major) of years, placed it into our own personalized context, and demanded accommodation from everyone else because we’re different and special. We managed to take the most boring component of any kindergarten writing class and found a way to be really offended by it; we’re just looking for things to be insulted by. Like kindergarten class, that is both hilarious and childish

Reynolds, I will admit that since you enlightened me to the textual way of the world, I’ve stopped using periods at the end of the text message. I’ve gone to great lengths to condition myself so that the way I communicate won’t offend anyone. It’s such a part of our society at this point that I recognize there is no reversing this practice. Most people are too far into it to admit that interpreting a period as a backhand is a silly habit; I concede both of these points

I do ask you, William — and whoever else has gotten a hold of this letter, which I’m sure will ascend as one of the great philosophically dialectic debates — to admit that this doesn’t make any sense. Admit that you and your contemporaries are submitting yourselves to a ridiculous status quo and subjecting the DM constructionist minority to your emotional whims. If you’ve paid attention to the endings of each point I’ve made, then you know I was only spurred to write this with the purest intentions

And that’s all I got to say about that. 

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