Archive for August, 2014

August 26, 2014

#83) Spacing Out

I have a confession to make and it’s even worse than not having done the ice bucket challenge this summer. I found out that one of my habits is, according to blogger Farhad Manjoo, “totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.” For as long as I can remember, I’ve put two spaces after each period. (You may notice that the spacing in this blog post is inconsistent. I’ve aimed to single-space after as many periods as possible but when I revert to habit and double-space, I’ll leave it in to prove how hard the habit is to break.)

Don’t laugh. In some circles, the one-or-two-space debate is as strong as Yankees/Red Sox, Israel/Palestine or Sammy Hagar/David Lee Roth.  Until recently, it never occurred to me that double spacing after a period might seriously be upsetting some people, such as teacher/blogger Jennifer Gonzalez.  (Damn it, there I go again!)

According to Gonzalez, the double-space rule goes back to the days of monospace typesetting. With computer fonts being as varied as they now are the double-space rule is obsolete and to hear Gonzalez tell it, visually offensive.  (Sorry, Jennifer, I just let another one slip.)

Why does any of this matter? My take-away is that sometimes we do things subconsciously that might not seem at all like a big deal to us but are incredibly annoying to others.  Therefore, 1) it’s good to try to be aware of how your actions come across and that something that seems inconsequential to you might be a big deal to someone else and 2) something that annoys the balls out of you, such as a driver on the freeway whose blinker is on but isn’t moving to the next lane because they hit it by accident, might simply be someone else’s honest oversight.  (Crap!)

Would the world be a better place if people used only one space after sentences? Perhaps; it’s an easy enough sacrifice to make. In keeping with the maxim that “how you do anything is how you do everything”, it just might come to pass that if enough people pay attention to this small detail, other blessings–correct use of “your vs. you’re”; fewer uses of numbers or individual letters as shorthand for whole words; no apostrophes in plural words; fewer comparisons to Rosa Parks or Hitler–might follow. While I can’t promise Gonzalez, Manjoo and their colleagues that I can correct decades of conditioning overnight, I can pledge to do my small part.

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