ICYMI: The importance of punctuation on the Web

Columnist Ellie Papadakis talks about how good grammar rules the web.

Since my last column was about the Internet and reading, and seeing as Sept. 24 was National Punctuation Day, let’s talk about the Web’s Grammar Police.

Terrible grammar on the Internet is so 2007, especially with teachers, employers, bosses and who knows who else constantly peering into your social media. But there’s a difference between intentionally terrible grammar — “u” instead of “you,” “r” instead of “are,” etc. — and an unintentional mistake.

There’s a difference between correcting someone’s grammar in a sarcastic or funny way, and correcting someone’s grammar in a confrontational “wow-you-stink-at-spelling” kind of way. After all, the Internet can appreciate a bit of snarkiness and a grammar joke or two, but it’s no longer fun once one person starts judging another for their mistake.

If you’re going to correct someone online, just be nice about it. If you’re posting something online, be sure to double and triple check your spelling and grammar. This also avoids the embarrassment of re-reading something after you posted it and discovering a horrible spelling error after 100 of your 250 followers have already read the tweet.

For those grammar freaks who are interested, here are three punctuation marks that could help us communicate more efficiently online:

— The Interrobang. Basically, it’s “?!” combined. For when you’re really excited about a question you’re asking. — The SarcMark. It would be the Internet’s favorite punctuation mark, if it were easier to type. It looks like a spiral with the dot in the center. Obviously, it’s used to inform someone you’re being sarcastic. — The authority point. It lets someone online know how serious and adamant you are.

Of course, there are other ways to virtually communicate. Emojis have given us a way to share our feelings and emotions through pictures, but GIFs are my favorite way to share emotion through the Web. GIFs let you take your favorite quotes from TV shows and movies and apply them to yourself. It’s like the Internet’s favorite way to be a narcissist.

All in all, the importance of proper punctuation online and use of emojis serve a purpose on the Internet. They let us connect across boundaries, from different countries to ethnicities, in ways that we couldn’t before.

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