Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Devastation Caused by Misused Quotation Marks

I have a confession to make:

Sssshhh... don't tell.

((i love reading the comments on news stories.))

It's terrible, I know. Everybody knows the unwritten rule that you just don't read the comments. Good things rarely come from the arguments in the comment sections, and I think the news stories are the worst.

But, no matter. I'm in love with the high I get when I read the comments section of a news story. ("high" as in "high blood pressure.")

So, yesterday I was reading a news story, I don't know who published it and I can't actually remember what the point was, but I *think* it was about the severe weather that recently moved through our area and the fact that in a count of 9+ tornadoes including one EF-3 that leveled a Starbucks among other damages, not one person was seriously injured and nobody was killed. I think that is just incredible. Obviously, everybody else thinks that too. Somehow in the comments, if I'm even remembering this correctly, the conversation of the local disaster tied into the recent, terrible earthquake in Italy (my family there is all fine, in case you know me personally and have been wondering. They are north of where it struck.)

In the comments section, a woman (I think her name was something like Carol, so I'll just call her that) said, "In Italy they found a 10 year old girl "alive" after 17 hours of being trapped!" Everybody was amazed and rejoicing in the comments afterward.

Everybody, that is, except Jane.

Jane replied, "Why did you put quotation marks around the word alive?" People at first ignored her comment, somebody eventually said something along the lines that, sure, the quotation marks were misused but it didn't matter since everybody knew what Carol was saying.

Jane did not think it was okay. Jane evidently has serious problems with the misuse of quotation marks. She kind of went off the deep end. People assured her that it wasn't a big deal, but she believed it was. She even started name calling. One name I remember was "dumb," but there were others. Carol herself even responded, saying that she didn't know the quotation marks were of consequence, she was just so happy the girls was alive, but Jane just would not let up.

I couldn't help commenting. I wanted to say more, but instead, I settled with saying, "Jane, you're mean." I didn't really want to get into it on there. But my brain kept going.


My brain was saying, "Jane, how deeply does this misuse of punctuation affect you? Does Carol's incorrectly placed quotation marks around the world "alive" mean that everyone you love will soon be "not alive?" Does it mean your son won't get into the college he's really hoping for? Does it mean financial disaster, perhaps even ruin for you? Is your dog going to get mange because of this? Will your pen-pal in Switzerland stop writing to you? Will your half and half go sour and curdly long before the stamped expiration date on the carton? Does your computer screen explode when it comes across misplaced quotation marks? What is it, Jane? Why the heck is this such a big deal to you?"

My brain was saying, "Geez, Jane! Give it a rest!"

It reminds me of when people really get after the commenters who can't seem to figure out that caps lock button. The poor commenters probably don't even know it's there. They are typing and words are appearing on theirs screen, and sure, they are all big letters, but what they are saying obviously doesn't match the capitalization, and who really cares about the etiquette of computer type when clearly this is a person who isn't shouting, and whose issues are not related to anger, but rather to technological incompetence?

For crying out loud, people! I know there are ways to do things. I know there are correct spellings, punctuations, grammar rules, and a whole freaking language concerning internet lingo, manners and faux pas. But really, do we have to get after people for every little thing? Even if it is a pet peeve, even if seeing misused quotations is like fingernails on a chalkboard to you, PLEASE.... just keeeeeeeeeep scrolling. Chances are, addressing the mistake is just not worth it.

However, I have to admit, if people stopped being jerks in the comment sections, how would I get my entertainment? Maybe I should really tell Jane thanks!


  1. On the college campus near us, there is a sign that says Traffic "Must" Stop for People in the Crosswalk.

    We chuckle over that one all the we are ones that make fun of misused quotation marks. However, I'm not going to complain about it in a combox somewhere, I'll just make fun of it on social media. :)

  2. My husband loves comments. He emails me news stories when he's at work, and calls to see if I remembered to read the comments. It's become a habit by now, so I usually do, and they never disappoint. They dismay, though, because I am always shocked at how different, weird and nutty other people can be.