A Small Victory - Faith No More (mp3)
“That’s just how I was taught.”
Interesting how that phrase gets used by most of us. It’s a defensive statement. It tends to mean, “Hey, don’t blame me. Someone else did this to me. I was just a kid, and this is what I learned.”
When it comes to matters of prejudice, bigotry, or hatred, and when it involves someone inheriting/learning from the small-mindedness of previous generations, many of us are impatient or outright angry at the excuse. Being raised by racists, or being raised by a misogynistic father, or being taught that the original lunar landing was a conspiratorial hoax by a wacky teacher... None of these are excuses for carrying forth with or propagating such nonsense.
But if you throw down the gauntlet about something like the proper number of spaces between sentences, folks come out of the woodwork in defense of two spaces with this very desperate cry, “I was just taught that way!”
Or, better yet, “It’s just a matter of habit!”
Slate.com offered a polemic against double-spacing recently, and were it not for the hype of a Tiger Mother, it might well have been one of the most unpredictably viral screeds of the week. Slate’s page received a barrage of commentary, well over 100 at last count. Of particular fascination is how much time many people took to observe that the entire issue was a waste of time. That is, people wasted their own precious time to point out the time they clearly wasted to read the piece and scroll down and sign in and offer opinion.
Two spaces versus one. Edward versus Jacob. Yankees versus Red Sox. We Americans crave meaningless and superficial debates about things which ultimately mean little or nothing, because we seem so poor at handling matters of greater import. We are so irresponsible in how we debate and discuss truly important issues, and we embrace such a low level of intellectual discourse, that we instead drift into debating things with little true significance. Because, ultimately, even the lowest-educated soul can find some way to argue for a favorite football team or a preferred lover for Bella. You need only read two books or sit in front of a TV for a few hours, and suddenly you have all the firepower necessary to engage in a heated and passionate debate.
While Mr. Manjoo comes across too much like a snooty bully for my tastes, his “side” of this debate is backed with more than ample research and information which, if you remove his taint, is quite convincing.
The real deal-breaker: everything anyone reads online or in newspapers or in magazines or in books. Almost every printed piece you’ve ever laid eyes on that wasn’t written for or by an educator uses a single space after sentences. Even the most conservative, anti-evolutionary, most change-o-phobic sites on the Interwebs use a single space between sentences.
What’s more, most of us have accepted this online reality without batting an eye. We read the papers and the Internet articles, and few of us notice or care about the single space.
A single space is economical. Eventually, piled up sentence after sentence, single spaces save trees. Compared to two-space people, I’ve probably saved a whole tree. And each tree means something to some little dog out there in the world, needing to take a piss. Or a bird needing to build a nest. Hell, it's possible I've helped save an entire small ecosystem compared to those wasteful, space-eating, greedy two-space sumbitch bastards.
Help save the planet. Stop pressing that space bar so many dadgum times. Quit using that lame “That’s how I was taught” nonsense and join us here in the 21st Century.