Over at the New Republic, Ben Crair has written this consideration of why the period has become an angry punctuation mark. It’s a fun read, but I’m not sure I accept his premise. To wit:
The period was always the humblest of punctuation marks. Recently, however, it’s started getting angry. I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce “I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded.”
First of all, the comma was always the humblest of punctuation marks. People don’t have long discussions about whether to omit the period in any given sentence and then agree that it doesn’t matter. More importantly, though, is this subtle change in broad, undocumented patterns of usage real?