If you’ve ever been on the internet (and you have–trust me on this, I feel pretty secure in this assumption) you’ve seen it. I call it the Internet Ellipsis. I’m sure… you know… what…. I’m talking……. about…………..
First, let me say I’m no grammar or spelling Nazi. Shit, I make some of the most creative typos the world has ever seen, I constantly screw up “there,” “their,” and “they’re” even though I damn well know the difference (also “too,” “to,” and “two,” “your” and “you’re,” and “its” and “it’s.”) I’m the worst speller in the history of creation and I don’t know a dangling participle from a hypothetical subjunctive (or even what either of those two things are). But I goddamn well know how to use an ellipsis. More importantly, I know how not to use it.
First, some quick-and-dirty educational content. The ellipsis is a mark of punctuation. It looks like this: “…” It’s three dots, or periods. The real sticklers say you should put a space between each one, like this: “. . .”. Either way, it’s THREE dots. That’s the first lesson. THREE. Remember that for later.
There are two main uses for the ellipsis. The first and most common in academic circles is to indicate omission in a quote. Say, for instance, I have a quote that goes something like this:
“I have never used steroids. Period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that.” — Rafael Palmeiro
Now say I want to use that quote in an article, but, hey, it’s a bit long. Well, that’s where the magic of the ellipsis comes in! We can take out words freely, as long as we put the magic ellipsis in their place to indicate what we’ve done. Like so:
“I have … used steroids. Period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that.” — Rafael Palmeiro
See how much cleaner that is? We shortened it up, made it a bit more punchy–all through the magic of the ellipsis!
The second usage is a bit more ill defined and vague, but basically it boils down to this. You can use an ellipsis to indicate when the speaker in a section of dialogue has trailed off rather than stopping in the normal fashion, or to indicate a pause in the dialogue that can’t otherwise be represented by another punctuation mark such as the comma.
This is the one that gets internet assholes in trouble. Here’s a good example of this usage of the ellipsis:
Jim got tired of knocking, and just let himself in through the unlocked front door. “Hey man, what’s going on, are you here or what? I thought…” Jim stopped, perplexed. His buddy Jack was home after all, but he wasn’t alone. “What’s with the orangutan, dude?”
As we can see, our hero Jim has entered his buddy Jack’s house, and found him, perplexingly, with an unknown orangutan. This has caused Jim to pause in his questioning of Jack, presumably because his train of thought has become derailed. Instead, he asks a question different from the one that had previously been on his mind.
This is a good and proper use of the ellipsis. There are many other examples I could give, but I wont, because hey, screw this educational shit, it’s time to get on with the bitching.
The problem comes when internet dipshits take this too far. And by “too far”, I mean “Way the fucking FUCK too far.” First of all, an ellipsis is not just a super period. It’s not like the exclamation point, where using more of them just makes your sentence louder!!!!! Or the question mark, where using more of them makes your sentence more incredulous????? Using extra periods at the end of a sentence just makes you sound like you’re trailing off slowly after every single thing you say. In short, it makes you sound high. I realize most of you are high, like fucking 24/7 high, but still, do you really want everybody to KNOW that?
Here’s a real-world example:
“i would love to debate this … really, i would … but it’s not debatable anymore is it? … there were no wmd’s … and the justifications that are offered now by defenders of this war weren’t offered then because they wouldn’t have convinced the american people.”
Every sentence ends unnecessarily with an ellipsis. Look at that one where he ended with both a question mark and an ellipsis! That’s just ridiculous. This guy just might have an intelligent point to make, but I’ll never know, because no flipping way am I reading any farther in this post.
What exactly is he trying to indicate with those ellipses, anyway? The best I can figure, again, is that he’s super high, and he’s doing his level best to convey his squinty-eyed, slack-jawed, confused way of speaking in text form. I bet after he got done posting this, he went to his roommate and said “dude… where did you score this weed?… it’s fucking killer… are there any more Doritos?…” Except he didn’t goddamn capitalize Doritos. But I had to, because it was already bugging the shit out of me to not capitalize anything else, I couldn’t bear to not capitalize the proper noun at the end. (Not capitalizing at least the first word of every sentence is another piece of internet fuckery that I’d like to rant about sometime, but I’ll leave it for another day.)
Now, don’t get me wrong. If you’ve got yourself some killer weed, you go ahead and smoke up. That’s cool man, it’s all good. I might not even mind having a conversation with you over the ‘tubes while you’re high. Just don’t fucking type like you’re high! Don’t annoy the goddamn shit out of me by imitating a style of speaking I can’t goddamn stand when I hear it in person. For better or worse, people take the shit you say when you’re high way less seriously than they might otherwise. You’re only doing yourself a disservice by letting everybody know you were baked while typing that forum post. And if you’re not high, what in the bloody blue hell are you doing typing like you are? Just stop it! What do you think you’re accomplishing? I’m actually really curious.
It only gets worse from here. That was a good example, in the sense that I at least understood what the guy was saying, and he was completely consistent in his (mis)use of the ellipsis. Check THIS shit out:
“I don’t care what you say, grew up with the word “Retarded” it simply means, someone that lacks intelligence if you like you can call it Mentally Challenged…..what ever Sarah Palin is both…….who cares what she thinks, until she says she is running in 2012 she needs to keep her thoughts to herself…..funny how the only place she can go to voice her opinion is FACEBOOK or FOX, she still can’t face or talk to the main stream media……..so so RETARDED…….”
This guy is bordering on incoherent. And now we see the “super period” use of the ellipsis. These really aren’t even ellipses, since those have only three dots, remember. These have like four, five, six, seven–however many the dude feels he needs to convey his point. Which apparently is something like “I AM SO HIGH RIGHT NOW! ALSO FUCK SARAH PALIN AND RETARDED PEOPLE!” I mean, I guess. Who can fucking tell?
Posts like this one also give the lie to the old “it’s OK because you understood what I was saying” line that people say in defense of their poor writing. Guess what? No I did not understand what you were saying there, dumb ass. And your lack of writing ability and your use of the internet ellipsis has greatly contributed to that fact.
This is a particularly egregious example, but it’s not even the worst I’ve ever seen. I’d show you some of those, but typically my brain shuts down and I click away from the page before I can read any posts that contain really awful usage of the internet ellipsis–and forcing myself to find some just for the purpose of writing this has left me drained. But some people really lean on the period key. It’s like they’re that keyboardist in that Flock Of Seagulls video, who apparently holds one damn note on his keyboard for half the song. He’s just working that key, man. At one point he even switches hands so he can use his other index finger, presumably because the other one was really tired, but he’s careful to always keep that magic key depressed. Like that asshole, some of you out there really work that period key, to the point where entire lines of some posts are nothing but periods.
I don’t get it, I never will, and the hell of it is, you fucktards wont stop doing it even if you do read this, so I’m wasting my time. At least writing this was a tad bit cathartic…………………………………