What if you texted a friend asking if they wanted to get drinks after work, and they responded, “sorry, i’m busy.” Now, imagine instead they responded, “sorry, i’m busy!” That exclamation point, a simple one-key change, makes a huge difference in determining whether your friend’s being a dick. That’s because only jerks, or the non-digitally adept, end their text messages with periods.
A new study from researchers at Binghamton University confirms our long-held suspicion that ending text messages with periods can make your messages come off kiiiiind of mean. When people use periods in texts, the study found, they’re perceived as being less sincere, officially making periods the “k” of punctuation.
“Texting is lacking many of the social cues used in actual face-to-face conversations,” associate professor Celia Klin said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses, and so on,” Klin said in a statement. “People obviously can’t use these mechanisms when they are texting. Thus, it makes sense that texters rely on what they have available to them — emoticons, deliberate misspellings that mimic speech sounds and, according to our data, punctuation.”
To avoid confusion, just stick to communicating entirely in emoji.