Punctuation Problems in Today’s Digital Society Everyone Should Be Aware of

Punctuation problems are certainly on the rise these days. The issue goes way beyond missing an apostrophe here and there. The use of computers and the wonders of features like Autocorrect are making people forget all the punctuation facts and what it means to write proper English with all the correct bits and pieces in their right places.

Many social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr share a certain degree of the blame as people try to write quickly and briefly to communicate with their friends and followers. This leads to most of their users thinking that these changes are normal and acceptable, thus propagating the problem and making it worse. Consider the common mistakes below and make sure you avoid all of them when writing online.

Modern Punctuation Errors

punctuation in text messages

Image credit: NPR

Nowadays punctuation usage is getting worse and worse as a result of the overuse of applications that facilitate texting online. Modern punctuation is suffering as people take shortcuts for their own convenience. While it’s often a great idea to do this, you sometimes risk losing your entire meaning by putting punctuation marks in the wrong places or omitting them altogether.

One of the most interesting mistakes is being made consciously and deliberately, and it’s the phenomenon of leaving off periods at the end of short sentences or remarks. Studies have shown that adding a humble period to the end of a simple affirmative statement like, “Okay,” lends this otherwise innocuous word an insincere undertone. Despite the fact that it might be correct to leave the period where it’s supposed to be, you might well be better off removing and following the crowd on this one.

Long before the advent of the Internet age, harder-to-use punctuation was already being discriminated against. Even back in 1949, E. L. Thorndike stated that the modern reprints of Shakespeare’s fine works contained vastly fewer colons than when they were originally printed. In fact, you’ll now find little more than 10% of the original colons remaining in their rightful place.

punctuation in text messages nowadays

When cell phones were first invented, users were limited to typing out their SMS texts using an alphabet superimposed on just 9 buttons (1-9) or sometimes 10 (0-9). This led to such abominations as “gr8”. While this made enough sense when phones were limited by their input modalities, the development of smartphones with full keyboards should have put paid to such alphanumeric abbreviations. It hasn’t, though, and many continue to live on unhindered.

Punctuation is still being used in the digital age and the on-screen keyboards integrated into smartphones have done the lion’s share of the work towards maintaining the proper use of punctuations marks and even diacritics that were notoriously difficult to insert into your text when using an English language keyboard. Now, punctuation has developed to reach a whole new stage of evolution. It can be used to add subtext, social meanings and even multiple intentions on the writer’s (or perhaps, typer’s) part.
Expert Opinion on the Matter

It’s clear that nowadays punctuation is going through something of a crisis, but is it really all that bad? Some linguistic experts certainly think so whereas others aren’t concerned at all. There are a number of reasons for siding with both viewpoints, chief of which is the inherent difficulty of including punctuation in text messages.

As alluded to above, the use of periods or the lack thereof is having a real influence on how messages are perceived by their recipients. Studies have shown that not only does the inclusion of periods in single-word remarks reduce the apparent sincerity of the sender, but they also add a feeling of finality. Try responding to someone’s request with a resolute-looking “No.” and the chances are that they’ll not ask again.

Despite the legitimate worry of many educators that instant messaging may lead to a reduction in pupils’ understanding of the proper usage of punctuation, grammar and spelling, this has generally been shown not to be the case. It turns out that students are able to develop proficiency in both instant messaging practices and standard practices regarding the format of their writing. While some students will gravitate towards a style of writing resembling that used in instant messaging, the vast majority can tell the difference and know when to use proper grammar.

Nowadays Punctuation Errors

Many experts now argue that digital communication has led to a separate set of rules that much more closely resemble the cadence of natural, spoken language. When this is understood and an open mind is maintained, it’s hard to think too badly of this style of correspondence typical of most instant messages sent in the digital age. The accompaniment of this “living” text by emoticons and emojis has led to a whole new way of communicating that doesn’t have to be considered to be in direct competition with proper lexical standards.

It’s easier than ever to add punctuation in text messages but even smartphones don’t make it all that easy when you have to search through hundreds of potential symbols. Despite the positive aspects, it has been observed that learning punctuation is becoming a real struggle as some children are becoming less and less familiar with the proper usage. Make sure that when you’re learning punctuation you avoid all the common errors brought on by overuse of technology.

There are some punctuation problems that have arisen as a direct result of changing means of communication in the digital age, but in the vast majority of cases, these issues have been blown out of all proportion. Nevertheless, it remains vital that you work hard to learn with the help of punctuation cheat sheet the difference between punctuation usage that’s acceptable online and that which ought to be used in proper professional or academic writing.

Make sure that none of the punctuation problems of the modern age affect you when you use an online grammar checker. Take positive steps towards becoming a real English master!