Communication has changed drastically over the last ten years due to the rise of Facebook, Twitter, texting, and emails.
We are now conditioned to shorten everything, to txt rather than write and to blast off an email rather than pick up the phone – partly due to less time and a more demanding lifestyle.
Punctuation has become redundant in many of the above forms: emoticons replace exclamation marks and kisses at the end of emails try and sugar the medicine somewhat. One manager I had was so spineless that I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d sacked somebody by email and then signed it off with her condescending xxxx which became her signature and her real meaning became distorted.
But, we shouldn’t forget punctuation; it is how we pepper our written forms of communication with emotion and without it everything becomes meaningless and confused. Lynn Truss’s famous book Eats, Shoots & Leaves takes on a completely different connotation when punctuation is added and the meaning is clarified.
Even in texts I try and punctuate and spell correctly. Pedantic perhaps, but my fear is that using punctuation and spelling correctly is like a muscle. If you don’t use that muscle for a long time then it stops working . And if we stop using emotion in our texts, emails, and Facebook messages will we eventually stop using it in when communicating face to face? Imagine that: a world void of emotion and full of smiley faces and false kisses all the time. Now there’s a scary thought…