doctorr doctorrr theress xtra letters in my textt

It was actually kind of fun when IM, texting, and Tweeting brought a new shorthand language into common use. At first, I was thinking these people were BBFBBM, but @TEOTD it was all harmless and J4F. Although it had a practical purpose as well. Expressing thoughts in fewer characters allowed for longer more complex messages to be sent quickly or via tools that limited the total size of a message.

In this same spirit, I was able to forgive, although never quite join in, the trend to eliminate punctuation and capitalization in messages. Capitals and punctuation are cumbersome on most phones (especially those without QWERTY keyboards), and that’s where many of these messages originated. And when you’re limited to 140 characters, every dropped comma can help get a 10-pound message stuffed into a 5-pound bag.

However, the current rage in this arena defies logic. Messages have words in them with repeated characters, similar to the title of this post. This is not a spelling deficiency or a typo. These are intentional extra characters. This is not a shortcut as more characters clearly means more button pushes to compose the message. What’s the deal then? The major perpetrators of this are kids. Is this just the latest fad to annoy parents and get them to lament about the fate of the next generation? Maybe in part, but I think there’s more.

As near as I can tell, the extra letters amount to punctuation. In most of the messages I’ve seen, the additional characters show up at the end of words where you might normally find a punctuation mark. Is it possible kids are copping to the fact that even short messages gain nuance and understanding with appropriate punctuation? Maybe. Although, it’s still pretty primitive since there is only a single punctuation mark. There’s no distinction between the causal pause of a comma and the punch of an m-dash. Yet maybe that’s a lost distinction on a generation that largely believes a semi-colon is the result of a botched rectal exam.

And even if it is intended as the universal punctuation mark, a call back to the good old days of telegrams STOP where all you had was a single grammatical break STOP I remain nonplussed. Using a period or a comma universally would suffice as well.

The damned kids these days are doing this, at least in part, just to tweak us old folks. They can’t abuse us with the loud rock-n-roll music because we play it too. We dress in Jeans and T’s. We took over Facebook on them. We text on our phones with wild abandon. You had to know they were going to make a stand somewhere. This is it.

Today’s youth are making their stand with superfluous letters, and it’s working. This is rising rapidly on the Pet Peeve scale for us codgers. So to today’s teens I say, “Well played… and get off my lawn!”

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