Just when we thought that this generation could not get any softer, linguists are now speaking out to warn that young people find the use of periods in social media messages to be “intimidating.”
Yes, you read that correctly: Young people these days are terrified of the use of periods in grammar.
A study carried out by Binghamton University in New York found that teenagers and those in their early twenties, who are known as Generation Z, have been using smartphones all their lives. They have become so used to sending messages without full-stops that they perceive social media messages that have periods at the end of them to be a sign of irritation, according to Daily Mail.
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This debate just went viral on Twitter when writer Rhiannon Cosslett tweeted, “Older people – do you realise that ending a sentence with a full stop comes across as sort of abrupt and unfriendly to younger people in an email/chat? Genuinely curious.”
Crime novelist Sophie Hannah responded to the tweet by writing, “Just asked 16-year-old son – apparently this is true. If he got a message with full stops at the end of sentences he’d think the sender was ‘weird, mean or too blunt.'”
Researchers have said that when young people communicate electronically, they break up their thoughts by sending each one as a separate message. They never use a period as a single full-stop, instead only using it when they are irritated or angry.
“If you send a text message without a full stop, it’s already obvious that you’ve concluded the message,” said linguist Dr. Lauren Fonteyn of Leiden University in Holland. “So if you add that additional marker for completion, they will read something into it and it tends to be a falling intonation or negative tone.”
Owen McArdle, a linguist from the University of Cambridge, gave his thoughts as well.
“I’m not sure I agree about emails. I guess it depends how formal they are,” he said. “But full stops are, in my experience, very much the exception and not the norm in [young people’s] instant messages, and have a new role in signifying an abrupt or angry tone of voice.”
Many social media users have been left shocked by this revelation, with one calling it “peak snowflakery.” We find that to be a sentiment that is tough to argue with on this one.