Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Two spaces after a period. Period.

While trying to find something unrelated I came across a piece from back in January composed by the Slate technology editor wherein he decried the use of two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence as "wrong!" He blathers on about how it bothers him when people think it proper and eventually gets around to some modicum of a supporting argument when he references how typographers apparently decided long ago to go with a single space, and mentions how much the use of two spaces appears to bother them. He mentions how with typewriters in the 20th century and their monospace typefaces the use of two spaces came into practice, but contends that when they changed to have typefaces that accommodated variable width characters it should have stopped.

He closes with an attempt at declaring the aesthetics of a single space as proving its worth; it's all arbitrary, he concedes, but we should go with the standards the professionals agree upon.

At no point does he make an effort to understand why those who prefer two spaces do so; in his mind it is a clear case of stupidity, and he arrogantly dismisses that there could be any justification for it in his tone throughout.

Although it isn't possible here on the blahg, if you were to see my typing outside of here you'd notice that I am a strong proponent of two spaces after a sentence. I was taught that way back in high school in typing class, but the reason I continue to do so is the flip side of his aesthetics argument: I happen to think two spaces looks better, that it better differentiates the beginning of a sentence from an abbreviation. I know I'm pressing the space bar more than absolutely necessary, but the thing is: That's my goddamn right as an American. In my personal compositions I can do whatever the fuck I want, and as long as it doesn't distort the meaning it should not be considered "wrong"; it could be seen as archaic, sure, or as superfluous, or not what HTML will accommodate, but calling it "wrong" is so f*cking self-righteous that I want to put two spaces in him (if you catch my drift).

But I think the best reason to continue using two spaces is simple and eloquent: It pisses off these arrogant pricks who think their standards should be applied not only in their professional or academic roles but in every possible fucking place, and anything I can do to piss them off I will keep doing as long as I have fingers and there are keyboards with a space bar.

Anyone who doesn't want to use two spaces can just use one. Doesn't bother me in the slightest. But then, I have this ridiculous belief that of all the shit that people can do to mess up communication that is not one where we need draconian enforcement one way or the other.

Besides, getting worked up over what others do is merely a recipe for making oneself miserable. You're welcome to that, dipshits. Enjoy.

Just shut the f*ck up about the rest of us.


The fact that I came across this nearly ten months after its initial posting does show how, for a medium that seems so disposable and of the moment only, the internet really can have a remarkable shelf life, as long as one sticks with topics that will remain debate-worthy and ultimately irresolvable.

Commenting on the events of the day can cease to be interesting even the next day, and that's partially why I don't bother with that. Also, that requires being much more keeping on top of events and forming responses to them very quickly. Obviously that ain't gonna happen when it's me.

Still, there's something about the potential for people to read something months or even years later and still find it worth reading that is to what any writer would aspire—even if it does nothing more than piss them off.

Perhaps especially if it still pisses them off.

1 comment:

  1. My superior, who is infinitely older than I am, uses two spaces. I use one. She learned on a manual typewriter, I learned on a computer. When I edit her material, I just search for two spaces and Replace All with one space. QED.


So, what do you think?