(these are who the tenth circle of Hell would have been reserved for)
I’m hardly a professional typist, but neither am I a neanderthal who drums on a keyboard with his clenched fists in order to create meaning – I know how the Hell to type. I am thus infuriated by those sadist who type inefficiently, for no particular reason; I can understand only typing with two fingers if that’s how you’ve always typed, and due to muscle memory your hands are physically incapable of typing any other way, but little things like the usage of quote marks instead of inverted commas grind my gears more than that God-forsaken metaphor I just used.
That first example, the usage of ” instead of ‘ in writing essays, really pisses me off (also, sorry for not putting those punctuation marks in inverted commas, as they are examples; it felt weird to put quote marks around a quote okay?), largely due to its inefficiency.
Most people will use these symbols to indicate speech or to quote from a text in an essay; in an academic paper of any level, from GCSE to postgraduate, quotes will be used frequently, either because the writer needs to draw on lots of evidence to support their wildly philosophical points, or because the writer doesn’t have any ideas of their own and needs padding in their essay to hit a thousand words. Either way, writers quote all the bloody time, and so it makes no sense to use ” instead of ‘.
Simply put, inverted commas require one click with a finger, whereas quote marks require two: the holding of shift and the pressing of the ‘ key (or the 2 key on a PC); to me it seems a massive waste of energy to double your finger usage, especially for something that’s so common.
Also, the need to hold down shift adds an unnecessary element of timings to proceedings; most of us can hold shift for exactly the right length of time by this point in our lives, to ensure we are activating a key’s secondary function, and not for so long that it becomes tiring on our little fingers, but in learning to type for the first time, does this not present a superfluous and odd concept, compared to the lack of timing required in the typing of most other characters, that the novice typer has to deal with?
Another issue was one raised on an episode of QI a while back; I can’t remember the episode or series, but Frank Skinner said that the need to hit shift to use a colon was too much effort for him, and so he resorted to using hyphens to illustrate lists. This is an excellent example of how an innocent typer can become easily corrupted with the values of inefficient typing; if you wanna use a colon, use it Goddamit, not a hyphen because it’s more convenient!
I think a lot of people generally shy away from the colon and semi-colon buttons because they fear these odd symbols of punctuation reserved for Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, and find the humble hyphen much more comforting; it just a line, after all, how scary can it be? I reckon that if we all started using colons, and semi-colons especially, more often, we’d all be a little more accurate in our typing, as we’d be driven less by convenience and more by a need to express our meaning, which is the very nature of language.
I think I’ve not found a lot to talk about here, not because this was a hastily-thrown together idea in a series of increasingly desperate attempts to upload a piece of prose to this demanding and numerically soul-crushing site each day, Lord knows I’ve written thousand-word pieces on the most irrelevant topics conceivable, but because I am guilty of a lot of crimes that I myself don’t even notice. I’d consider myself quite observant, but I commit a lot of these typing sins myself, as typing has become a passive skill for all of us; it’s not the 1930s, and stenography isn’t a practical skill you need to go to college for.
I suppose that all of us won’t notice things that we do as a routine, as they’re not worth noticing to an extent, they are just part of our lives. Perhaps this is why people are so dumb these days – everyone has a routine they rigidly stick to out of a need for comfort and logic in the chaos that is human life, but this logical approach also makes us less observant to the world around us. It’s a shame that, so many people have the potential to be great people, if only they’d open their stupid eyes.