It was around 3 o’ clock on Thursday when she asked the question:
“Do you type two spaces after a period?”
I was shocked by the accusation. Of course I did. It seems so wrong not to. “Can we still be friends?” I asked.
Danai assured me that I was not alone, that she too had been putting two spaces after her periods for as long as she could remember.
“Okay… I just came across an article that explained how wrong it was to do it, because it’s an archaic thing that got started because of typewriters AND I googled the issue and people are very serious about this.”
I was at a loss; Danai was an excellent googler. I found myself questioning everything, saying things like “WHAT IS WRONG WITH TYPEWRITERS?” and “30 years ago isn’t archaic!” Outdated, yes, but typewriters are found in Goodwills not Mayan ruins.
“Well the way these people are talking, it is.”
These people. Who were they? Babies? Babies Talking?
She sent me the link to Slate’s Space Invaders: Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.
The article was an attack, referring to the use of two spaces after a period as the “ugly error”. It called us, the folks who listened during high school business class, “two-spacers”. According to the article, Danai and I were unknowing members of a marginalized sect. Retards, in other words.
“I don’t like Slate anymore,” she said.
I tried to comfort her, “We just need to check MLA.”
Except, Slate cited MLA. “Because it is increasingly common for papers and manuscripts to be prepared with a single space after all punctuation marks, this spacing is shown in the examples in the MLA Handbook and the MLA Style Manual.”
MLA even went so far as to try and soften the blow by adding, “as a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise.” Do whatever you want, just don’t publish anything. Mentally challenged, then.
“We’re doomed, Maggie. Doomed. We’re on par with AOL email addresses.”
So here’s what happened: we all started using typewriters, typewriters used monospaced types, it’s hard to tell where sentences end when your type is loose so… two-spaces. Now we’ve got these fancy computer machines and monospaced types are no longer used–except for Courier, that is. The shift toward single-spacing was not a matter of correctness, but a matter of sheer aesthetics.
But who’s to say space isn’t beautiful? Why not honor the end of each sentence with a moment of silence? Take a moment to chew it and savor each syllable in the beat before the next? Have these single-spacers ever sat down and watched the stars come out after a sunset? Just look at the way a T hangs aggressively over a period when you’ve got only one space. If I were a period, I’d tell that T to back the fuck off. This is MY sentence.
So to you, Slate, I say… well okay, then. Enjoy your Adderall-induced attempt at forcing people closer and closer to run-on-sentences. I guess I’ll go back to Courier.
A Note From The Editor:
Two spaces go after every period, Pluto is a planet, and the sun revolves around the earth. If you believe one of those then you likely believe all three.
This means that for every Joe Two-Spacer spamming the blogosphere and twitter-frontier there are dozens to millions of readers quietly being dumbed down. The harshest offense by two-spacers is submitting work for publication and insulting editors by making them painstakingly go through their work, removing each extra space, manually. This is such a common problem that space-removing software is now on the market and available for download.
A space is a form of punctuation. Like all punctuation it only serves to signal breaks in words, speech, thoughts. And in this case, two-spacers are haphazardly adding this extra breath after periods. If they want to use two spaces, why not three, four or ten? Maybe a poetic line break? Where does their madness end?
Do you know someone who suffers from awkward conversational moments in real life? They just might be a two-spacer. Imagine ending each face to face sentence with a long, awkward pause just before starting a new sentence. “It looks like it will rain. – Awkward Pause (Do I respond?) – I think I left the windows down.” Awkward Pause (Are they done with their thought?).
Two-spacing is like mom-jeans. It never looked good and will only exist in the future for irony and fetish. Two-spacers open hospitals specializing in leach technology. Two-spacers practice lobotomies… unfortunately on the innocent and not each other. Two-spacers litter while riding two-person bicycles alone. They’re an odd bunch. Not bad people. Just comfortable dragging their feet in the typographic dirt. Some of them are my friends. Mostly for irony and fetish.