I decided to take a social media break right before the election. I had my fill of “doom scrolling” throughout most of 2020. It seemed like a good use of my time. Some days being on Facebook and Twitter can feel like getting beaten up by a robot holding a sock full of dead batteries. I needed a week to detox from it all.
I made a post to let people know I’d be away for about a week. It only seemed fair, I didn’t want anyone to panic or worry, as we all know “So goes Ross, so goes the world.” Right? That’s a thing? I feel like that should be a thing. We could sell that on the shirts. (note to self, get your people on this.) On the post I made a distant relation left a comment that sounded a bit..odd.
“You know what’s coming…” was the comment. I’m sure it was innocent enough, but that phrase with an ellipse on the end sounded vaguely threatening, as does everything this particular relation posts as they use ellipses all the time. No simple period at the end of their posts, comments, and the like. Just a “…” every time. What should sound like “I don’t blame you, you know this will a terrible week online” instead had the air of “I am creeping up behind you with a knife, get out while you still can.”
There are times when ellipses can work very well. If you’re using a lengthy quote and are cutting it up, you can use it as a means to bridge material together. Therein lies the fear, that little tinge of omission that the ellipses stand for, which can make a commonplace comment sound like something out of “Unsolved Mysteries.” Let’s take an autumnal visit to the local farmer’s market, for instance. “I could get a lot of use out of these apples!” sounds very nice. You could be buying those apples for a pie, apple butter, or just to enjoy on their own.
However, if you write that out as “I could get a lot of use out of these apples…” what originally sounded like the enjoyment of nature’s bounty now sounds like “…as I stuff them in the mouths of the humans I keep captive in my basement.” Let’s say I posted something about my increased anxiety at the state of the world and the election. Let’s imagine someone posted “Don’t worry, it will be over soon.” Which may sound a bit tone-deaf, but also sounds very concise.
Now, how does it sound if it had been “don’t worry, it will be over soon…?” The meaning changes, as then it sounds like the second part is “…as I hold this ether soaked rag up to your face, give in to the gentle embrace.” I’m not trying to be a jerk by implying that people should have a basic grasp of grammar—maybe I am—but I guess I just don’t want innocent comments from family to cause me to feel like I’m in a reboot of “Friday the 13th.”
If I said I was going out to enjoy a nice restaurant in the area with a date and the comment was “I hope you have a great time, I hear the food is great.” I would feel excited about my evening. If it was “I hope you have a great time, I hear the food is great…” I would fear that the conclusion would be “…it hides the taste of bitter almonds as I am slowly poisoning you.”
I’m sure I’m letting some of this go to my head. I’m sure no relations of mine have a vested interest in creeping outside my house at night while “Every Breath You Take” plays in their heads. I highly doubt any of them are planning my death as well. Sure, I signed a double indemnity clause on myself recently, but that has nothing to do with it, right?
It’s my annoyance at their insistence on using an ellipse to end every last flipping thing they post online. I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m sure the sun will shine again, and I’m sure they’ll post some other innocent thing but wind up sounding creeping without intending to. Who can say… See you next week… I hope…