Text messages that end with a period are perceived to be less sincere than messages that do not, according to newly published research from Binghamton University.
Remember grunge fashion? Suburbanites who had the financial means to dress neatly instead donned frayed flannels and ripped jeans. They dressed down, hoping to fit in.
I’d like to propose a corollary concept: grammar-grunge. In grammar-grunge, otherwise-literate communicators intentionally disregard proper punctuation, form and syntax. I know when to use “whom” instead of “who.” But because “whom” makes me sound like a pretentious jackass, I swallow that last consonant. I do the same thing when I eschew snooty words (e.g. “lain”), use a preposition to end a sentence, or disregard a hundred other poorly-understood grammar rules. No one else follows them; I don’t either, because I’m afraid of appearing snobbish.
Over the past two decades, texting has acquired its own vernacular—its own sloppy syntax. The cell phone’s numeric keypad made pecking out messages infuriatingly cumbersome. “Unnecessary” punctuation quickly fell to the wayside. Even when the mobile typing experience grew better (thanks to improved keyboards from Blackberry and Apple), sloppiness remained the standard.
In this world of careless touch-typists, proper form sticks out. Anyone who deviates from the informal norm—say, by punctuating her sentences—must have a reason. Other texters assume that the nonconformist’s pedantic periods have meaning. Is she being curt? Is she criticizing my improper form? Or maybe—as this study indicates—she’s being insincere, even sarcastic.
To avoid being misinterpreted, I again resort to grammar-grunge. I type “hey” instead of “Good morning!” I forgo my beloved semicolons. I even drop in the occasional “WTF”.