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Snowflakes, Diversity, and Communication

Thus, a period can reinforce a negative message (“that’s rough.”) but undermine a positive one (“that’s fine.”). The latter style reads to many younger people as passive-aggressive, a sign that the writer could have used a sincere exclamation mark (“that’s fine!”) but decided not to.
Yes, it’s a lot of meaning to infer from a dot, but it’s socially useful to be able to convey a nuanced level of reluctance, one that’s not strong enough to be worth registering as a full complaint but is nonetheless not quite full-throated enthusiasm. ...
In high school English classes and writing manuals, we’ve been told that being “clear” and “correct” in language will help people understand us.

But understanding doesn’t come from insisting on a list of rules.... ...
We’ve been taught the lie that homogeneity leads to understanding, when in truth, understanding comes from better appreciating variety. If I write a sentence like “My brand is strong” using the default settings on my phone’s keyboard, I look like a corporate sellout, but if I can write it with subversive capitalization, like “my Brand is Strong,” I can convey something quite different, a signal that I’m not taking myself too seriously, that I have an ordinary internet user’s ironic ambivalence toward the idea of a personal brand.
Having emotionally real conversations takes vulnerability. ...
Younger people... desperately want to be able to have emotionally real conversations in text with the people who matter to them.
When we write in ways that a red pen wouldn’t approve of, we give our interlocutors the chance to show that they care more about us... by not derailing the conversation with moralizing “corrections” — or better yet, by replying with the same vulnerability.
- Gretchen McCulloch, We Learned to Write the Way We Talk, NYT, DEC. 27, 2019


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