So I’m driving with my daughter and her friend a few weeks ago (right on the cusp of National Punctuation Day!) and they begin comparing notes on the use of punctuation in texts. It was actually quite entertaining! Now I do plenty of texting and lots of emails, but I never realized that there was such a hard, fast set of parameters for this activity. If you think about it – it makes sense. Whether we like it or not, our teenagers might start dating, fight, talk and even break-up all via text. The punctuation is crucial to understanding the context of the text conversation. These punctuation rules also spill over into Facebook and Twitter.
Later that evening, I took a photo of my daughter and her friend waiting in line to enter a concert. It was an artsy photo taken with Hipstamatic and I wanted to post it on my Facebook page. Now, I’m thinking I’m cool because: 1) I have Hipstamatic on my phone and I took a cool photo with it; and 2) I actually know how to upload the cool photo to my Facebook page right from my smart phone to alert my friends (and hers) to our current status! But, no, I wasn’t cool at all because when I typed, “waiting in line.” I was told I sounded mad: “let me have that!” my 16 year old exclaimed. She quickly deleted the post and then reposted it on my Facebook page this way: “Waiting in line!” See the difference?
Here are the rules of punctuation as explained to me by my teenage daughter:
- Use periods only when you are being serious or mad;
- Use commas to break up thoughts;
- Use dashes to break up more intense thoughts or to separate bigger topics;
- Exclamation points convey excitement but don’t use them too much because you get annoying;
- Use question marks when you have a question;
- Don’t use abbreviations out of context – some parents throw them in (ie: brb – be right back) when responding to their teens to be cool. (It’s not cool – don’t do it!);
- A winky face is never to be used by a parent to a child – why ?- just don’t do it 😉
- You can use a smiley face when you’re trying to be sweet – but don’t overdo it!