Recently in an article in The Washington Post Rachel Feltman wrote, “ending your texts with a period is truly monstrous.” Wait, what? It is grammatically correct to end a sentence with a period and everyone knows that. Ms. Feltman insists that not only is it not correct, but it is “monstrous.” Monstrous? I’m a monster because I ended my sentence in a text with a period? Excuse me, but I’m afraid we’re suffering from severe word inflation here. I believe the word she was looking for was “right.” Ms. Feltman’s rationale was “it just doesn’t look friendly.” My first reaction is her thought about periods in texts clearly is the ridiculous opinion of one probably misguided woman. My second reaction is, why is such a thing even being written about in The Washington Post? Must have been an awfully slow news day.
This may seem like a rather silly discussion, but there is a point. By the way, I really am not too concerned about being perceived as monstrous and heartless, even if I have put periods on the ends of a lot of sentences. However, this quirky topic did make me think once again about the fact that communication is a two person thing. It involves both sending a message and receiving one, and foul-ups can occur at both ends. I need to concern myself not just with what I say, but what another person perceives me to be saying.
In 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 Paul said to Jews he tried to be like a person living by the Jewish Law, but to Gentiles he tried to be like a person who didn’t worry about the Law. In verse 22 he said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” In other words, he did everything he could to make sure that how people perceived him did not get in the way of the message of the gospel. In modern terms, if ending a text sentence with a period would be perceived as heartless, thus at odds with the gospel of grace, then by all means lose the period. The point, of course, is not grammar and punctuation at all, but making sure that the way we live and the way we express ourselves does not get in the way of the grace of God. Way too often I have seen Christians completely cloud the gospel of grace with statements of truth that are deeply ungracious, maybe even heartless. That’s truly monstrous. We need to be aware of how our message and the way we deliver it is perceived. We need to do all we can to deliver the message of God’s grace without getting in its way.
So next we need to understand the difference between emoticons and emojis, and the proper use of each. Or maybe not.