I’M NOT SHOUTING IF I TYPE IN ALL-CAPS And I’m Not Being ‘Ironic’ If I Use Single-Quotes, Or Here's Why I Love The Tilde

It wasn’t terribly long ago that we as a society labored under the common perception that ‘people on the internet’ were somehow different from ‘people you see in the grocery store [or some other place of normative transit].’ In the 1990s I became enamored with the idea of ‘talking to people on the internet,’ at which point my mother expressed distress that ‘these people’ to whom I was talking were somehow more likely to sexually assault me or otherwise commit fetishistic murder upon me than your average ‘IRL’ person.

Fortunately I have survived to the ripe age of [????] without having been the victim of fetishistic murder on the part of an ‘internet person.’ In fact, these days ‘everyone’ is on the internet; in cosmopolitan circles it’s in fact considered more, like, socially-acceptable or whatever to meet members of your preferred sex via social media than it is to engage with what might once have been known as ‘the pick-up scene,’ also known as bars at closing time where one might squint vaguely through the haze at someone or another who seems like you probably won’t hate them in the morning and decide to acquaint yourselves through such invitations as “want to get out of here?”

So, like, wait a sec – this isn’t an article about ‘online dating’ or something like that; it’s just that certain topical deviations are necessary as active demonstration of the age in which we live; in other words, whereas your mom might have really raised the f-cking alarm re you ‘meeting someone online’ 6-12 years ago, now your mom [or otherwise suitable parent figure, possibly your ‘BFF’] is all like, “oh, hey, you met him on J-Date, sounds perfect, at least you didn’t meet [them] in some bar.“

Right, so the net effect of the normalization of internet socialization is that the more integrated and therefore acceptable it becomes, the more likely individuals are to prefer to conduct most if not all of their personal and professional communication alike through these channels.

Yet there’s a problem. Even though this is totally the 21st century, there are still people to whom ‘netiquette’ still applies. Remember ‘netiquette’? Like, okay, here we go, 7 o’clock news circa 1997, some television anchor, wearing the sort of whimsical expression one might lend to someone patiently tolerating a fad, is displaying dated infographics as a backdrop to their explications of the meanings for ‘LOL’ and ‘ROFL’ and ‘;).’

Like, “whoa, hey, we’re establishing a new language here, people! Let’s see how long this lasts!!”

Those people probably feel kinda old now. The wildland of an era in which text-based communication is not only normative but preferable has given entire generations the liberty to define individual tone online. There aren’t really “rules,” like maybe you could type something into a Gchat window and the person on the other end appears to totally be online but isn’t answering you, and yet they haven’t exactly committed an etiquette breach per se, it’s you who is obligated to know that they might just be totally busy or not imminently available to you or disinterested in your elected topic of conversation or whatnot. I mean, if you type to someone a sincere question and they respond only with “lol,” okay, that’s pretty screwed up, but even then, you have the leisure to feel like, “okay, maybe they just don’t have the same immediate facility with this communications ‘platform’ as I do, it’s cool, okay.”

Somehow, though, there are still people who if you TYPE IN ALL CAPS will reply [via Twitter or similar]: “WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING,” as if caps lock text were actually, quantifiably and materially somehow still analogous to ‘shouting,’ as if it were possible to ‘shout’ via unvoiced prose. Whenever I type in caps and someone replies re me ‘shouting’ I feel like they must have just finished watching a ‘netiquette’ broadcast circa 1996.

BULLETIN: THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO EMPLOY ‘CAPS LOCK’ TEXT FOR EMPHASIS, AND SIMILARLY THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO EMPLOY WHAT EVERYONE CALLS ‘IRONIC’ SINGLE QUOTES WITHOUT IRONY, BECAUSE THEY ARE MAKING THE VALID CREATIVE DECISION TO INDICATE A CHANGE IN TONE OR TO DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM THE ITEM IN ‘IRONIC QUOTES’ AND IT’S LIKE TOTALLY A VALID TONAL ‘THING.’ No one is ‘shouting.’ No one is ‘being ironic,’ and those who comment on the tonal choices people make in the use of text just kind of seem really inhibited or legislative. When I or anyone else Tweets or updates Facebook in all caps and someone replies ‘WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING’ or ‘why are you employing ironic quotes’ they smack to me distinctly of someone who has just finished watching a ‘netiquette’ broadcast circa 1996.

For further illustration, I personally have highly attached to the ‘tilde’ (~) in order to illustrate tone. Honestly, I have no concept of the originally-intended purpose of a tilde on a keyboard. Like, I could Wikipedia it, but I won’t, because I’ve just owned it so hard over the past several months. Look at the thing: ~, a sort of insouciant little sing-song line, sketched as if to indicate the continuance of a vowel, or of a sentiment.

I can’t quite put my finger on why I like to use a tilde at the end of joyful sentences, like maybe I am ‘sing-song’ or even celebratory in a fashion that would maybe be awkward if I did it in actual IRL voiced speech. Like, online it is acceptable to carry out vowels at length to indicate levity (e.g.: hey~), but in an offline environment if I was glad to see someone and said “heeeeyyyyyyyyyyy” (try vocalizing as such), I may sound perhaps verbally delayed or otherwise awkward.

Thus to me the almighty tilde has become not only an expression of levity, but an affirmation of all of the ways that communication in persistent, connected online text is its own distinct creature, its own unclaimed frontier of invention that must not be legislated by dated ‘netiquette’ news anchors; I will not be told to STOP SHOUTING should I wish to employ caps-lock text, and you will understand, full wiggling-force, my love and levity should I employ the tilde, or should I decline to punctuate or capitalize, should I employ single quotes without intention to be ‘ironic,’ or should I, as a speaker in this brave new world, otherwise reject all heretofore acceptable definitions of grammatical ‘accuracy.’

If you are an ‘english major’ and you are positively quailing WELCOME TO THE NEW WORLD

You should totally try it~! TC mark

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  • http://twitter.com/Connor_FinishIT Connor Bennette

    YOUR POST SEEMS ENTIRELY CONTRADICTORY. 

    I may not be shouting, but the tone reads very differently than if I just said your post seems entirely contradictory.  Everything about the text changes the way its perceived, including capital letters.

  • Joachim Collingwood

    With any luck, we can defecate on language enough to erode it away completely, leaving nothing but a trace of symbols removed from meaning for fear of expressing a genuine thought.

    Godspeed~

  • Anonymous

    i lost interest of this after the first paragraph

    • http://ohmenver.tumblr.com/ ohmenver

      No article on Thought Catalog should require more than one full scroll down.

  • http://idiosyncratic-routine.com amberella

    I am confused why I should be encouraged to read “levity” into a tilde (something I have never actually seen used elsewhere on the web) but *not* read aggression or “shouting” into capital letters. The argument is internally inconsistent. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Marchand/1198956598 Matthew Marchand

    THANK YOU. If text has largely replaced speech in social communication then why don’t we try to emulate the expressiveness and irregularity of speech in our text? Just like a raised voice in speech can mean many things, so can uppercase text. And if the internet is our form of oral tradition or whatever other form of communication is the reason WHY WE DON’T SPEAK PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN, then that should be considered a totally valid form of language evolution. AND if the needs of our text based communication and culture demand the creation of two or multiple speech/text registers, why would that be considered any less healthy of a language development than, i don’t know, anything else that’s ever changed language?

  • Annie_Chan5

    I always read upper-case as the person shouting. I won’t ask them why they’re shouting, but if they use it all willy-nilly it’s super irritating.
    I also read tildes as “I’m a 14-year-old girl.”

  • http://twitter.com/MissKimball misskimball

    the bit about the ‘netiquette’ broadcast circa 1996 seems like shouting the second time

  • http://philolzophy.tumblr.com/ phiLOLZophy

    If you take logic a tilde negates the thing that comes after it and I like that use better.

    • http://philolzophy.tumblr.com/ phiLOLZophy

      Because I’m a ~~negative person.

  • Anonymous

    HEY THE INTERNET ISN’T NEW ANYMORE SO IT MEANS I CAN TYPE THIS WAY AND IT DOESN’T MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS EVEN THOUGH A LOT OF PEOPLE STILL THINK IT MEANS THAT.

  • Anonymous

    Also, stop trying to make “fetch” happen.

  • http://twitter.com/hereticaneue Heretica Neue

    Tildes are so 2006~!

  • http://twitter.com/jamsennings ⋉ ◰ ◱ ◲ ◳ ◴ ◵ ◶ ◷ ⋊

    THIS IS MINT~

  • Anonymous

    KANYE IS ALWAYS YELLING.

    What I miss is the lexicon of chain emails, circa 90s.

    Illogical consequences
    1 person —–> ur soulmate will find you in 1 year from 2day
    5 ppl —–> ur soulmate will find you next month
    10 ppl —–> ur soulmate will find you next week and call ur cellphone without u telling thm ur #!!
    20 ppl —–> ur soulmate is thinkin about u now and will call when you send this email to the 20th person!!!

    Graduated asterisks
    *
    **
    ***
    **
    *
    Scintillating tildes and plus signs ~+~
    Sometimes with an asterisk for extra fancy ~+*wish*+~

    So much magic in those previously underutilized symbols. Alas. I guess it’s just the #’s time now.
    I say “hashtag” in real life #gagme.

  • TAMAR4LYFE

    this post is boo dot com

  • Guest

    You say like far too much. I am sure it is suppose to be ironic…but it is more annoying than caps lock.

  • http://twitter.com/iamsubmerged Jordana Bevan

    ‘PREACH’~

    • http://twitter.com/iamsubmerged Jordana Bevan

      i identify with your article. fuck the h8rz

  • Margaret Thatcher

    You know why all-caps is reserved for shouting/expressing very strong emotion?

    BECAUSE IT’S REALLY ANNOYING TO TRY AND READ A WHOLE BUNCH OF WORDS THAT LOOK LIKE THIS. I MEAN, THERE’S A REASON THAT MOST NEWSPAPERS AND BOOKS AREN’T WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS.

    If we start freeing it up for the masses, I am pretty sure we are going to quickly begin to wish we hadn’t. Etiquette exists for a reason. It’s because things like anger, sarcasm, etc. aren’t readily apparent over text. It’s hard enough to discern tone and meaning from text to begin with. The small number of rules help with this, but do not fix it entirely. Why in the world would we want to make the problem of misunderstanding tone through text, which has caused countless arguments and likely ended friendships, even worse?

    I mean, if we discount the importance of not being frigging annoying to readers, why not just go all the way and start writing aLl Uv uR tHoUgHtCaTaLog pOsTs lYk Dis ROTFLMAO?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!!?!?

    I think you know why not.

  • Everyone Should Get OVER It

    I DONT THINK ANYONE ELSE GETS IT. BUT THATS OKAY BECAUSE IDGAF HOW PEOPLE INTERPRET MY WRITING AND IF IT BOTHERS THEM SO MUCH THEN I AM HAPPY TO RUFFLE THEIR OCD LITTLE FEATHERS HELL YEAH GIRL. ALSO I THINK YOU AND I AGREE THAT THE THINGS PEOPLE TAKE SERIOUSLY ARE SERIOUSLY HILARIOUS.

  • http://twitter.com/RonanConway Christopher Conway

    I agree with you completely, with every word of this article – but I don’t think you did a good job explicating it to older generations, and possibly any attempt to explicate it might be met with confusion and accusations of pretentiousness. but I feel this ~nahmean??~

  • AColeslaw

    when did Carles start writing for thought catalog?

  • Anonymous

    this is a very easy article to make fun of mostly because all we ‘commentators’ need to do in order to be ‘in on the joke’ is write in a ‘certain’ way.  i find myself in the strange position of completely agreeing with your general point that grammar nazis should be banned from the internet however i also absolutely despise the tilde and never read it as a joyful sign. maybe thats because spanish is my first language and so ive grown up seeing the “ñ” as a nuisance…basically just an “n” that takes longer to write. worse not putting the ‘~’ on the ‘n’ can lead to horrible misunderstandings. for instance “año” means year but “ano” means anus. i cannot tell you how many times ive wished someone a happy anus due to the evil complications of adding the tilde to my text. so anyways thx for the article. bye!

  • Garibokima

    ^ What she said.

  • mike

    A whole load of NONSENSE…what are you REALLY trying to say ?

  • http://politicalhotwire.com/current-events/108863-middle-school-teacher-has-sex-15-year-old-student-her-classroom-27.html#post3214394 Middle School Teacher Has Sex With 15-Year-Old Student In Her Classroom - Page 27

    […] they have been traditional in military, teletype, and comic books. ———————– I?M NOT SHOUTING IF I TYPE IN ALL-CAPS And I?m Not Being ?Ironic? If I Use Single-Quotes, Or Here's … Somehow, though, there are still people who if you TYPE IN ALL CAPS will reply [via Twitter or […]

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