There’s that one text message that will instantly make your blood boil. You know the one. It’s like a literal slap in the face. A true “go fuck yourself” statement packed in one little anger-charged message.
UGHHHH. Whether you’re on the sending or receiving end of this message, we all know what it means. “I’m so mad at you, you don’t even deserve a full word. You can go die now, because this conversation is O-V-E-R.” The best part is that after we text this, and the other person sends the classic “wait, are you mad?” response, we all say, “no.”
EVEN THOUGH WE ARE MAD. UGH. Unfortunately, that whole “passive aggressive punctuation” isn’t going to work anymore. Thanks to science, the secret is out. And apparently, the secret isn’t what we text, but how we text. According to a study by American University, it’s the punctuation of a sentence that shows we are ticked. the. eff. off.
In an article published by New Republic, Mark Liberman, a professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, explained why using a period at the end of sentence seems like a total bitch move.
In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all. In that situation, choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. And 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.
The article went on to say that people are much more likely to create a line break than use punctuation. The only time people really used end of sentence punctuation was to indicate a question, excitement, or, you guessed it, annoyance. See below, you’ll get what I mean.
First, we have the exclamation point. Using this punctuation mark literally makes me excited. Not only do I feel like I don’t have to worry about whatever it is that I was worried about, but uh hello? This person is excited to see me. I have a smile on my face, a bounce in my step, and I’ll most likely respond with a shit ton of “raise the roof” emojis.
Secondly, we have the “no punctuation” text. This is the most common form that we give and receive. It says “I’m busy so I can’t really chat but everything’s cool.” I’ll most likely respond with a casual “woohooo” or completely forget to respond at all. I don’t feel flustered by the text, but I’m not bouncing off of the walls either.
Finally, we have the period. My body turns cold just reading this message. Receiving this would result in either texting a paragraph back asking why the person is mad at me, pacing around my room wondering what I did wrong, or calling my friend and over-analyzing this text for a good forty-five minutes.
But now, as it turns out, these punctuation marks (or lack thereof) really do say something about the conversation. It’s not “over-analyzing” it’s just deciphering, and that person really does mean to throw some nerve-racking shade at you. So next time someone lays some hard punctuation on you (besides parents. They’re text illiterate and don’t count), you don’t have to wonder if they’re actually mad or not. Because they fucking are. You can skip the wondering step and go directly to the freaking out step. Thanks. I think?.
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