Apparently I’m evil. You would think it would pay better.
I learned to type in 8th grade, because I had to. This was back in the pre-web days, when computer programs came punched on inch-wide paper tapes and only defense scientists used the Arpanet. It was entirely plausible, in other words, for a person to envision a professional, white-collar life that didn’t involve typing every day. My parents wanted me to learn how to type and had bought me a succession of small portable typewriters as incentive, and while I enjoyed plinking around on them I never did quite manage to get around to learning how to type in any meaningful way that involved more than two fingers. It was fun, but it seemed like an unnecessary skill.
This school district did not agree.
So in 8th grade they shunted us into a newly-constructed classroom that they had carved out of the back of the cafeteria and vowed to teach us to type. The room was set up with long tables running widthwise across it, and at intervals on those tables were placed old-fashioned manual typewriters – big, heavy, black things made of wrought iron and anger, each of which weighed more than the student sitting in front of it, sometimes by a whole-number multiple. They were best operated with sledgehammers, which is why I went through so many keyboards once I finally got a computer. You really had to punch those keys to get them to move.
There were several oddities about this room. For one thing, it had no windows at all, which was a real treat the day the power went out and plunged 25 fourteen-year-olds into pitch darkness. For another, this classroom had an odd L-shaped turn at the front that made it impossible for the teacher to see the back two rows, where I was seated, a fact that I found advantageous, as, apparently, had the person who had gotten my typewriter in the class before me.
The keys on these things were studiously left blank, the idea being that you would look up at the front wall to find the diagram of the keys there and thus learn to touch-type. Given the fact that this previous student had generously carved all of the letters onto the blank keys of my typewriter, apparently with a dagger, however, this seemed unnecessary. I wouldn’t figure out how to type without looking at my hands until graduate school.
I don’t remember many of the specific lessons that were taught in that class. Really, I only remember one in fact: double-space after a period.
So imagine my surprise to see the mindless venom being spewed my way on the internet this week by people who single-space after bringing their sentences to a full stop. Here I thought that kind of spittle-emitting rage was mostly confined to politics these days. Apparently not. It’s as close as your keyboard.
From what I can gather, the arguments for single-spacing are two-fold:
1. It looks nicer, given the predominance of proportional fonts these days.
2. The typographers say so.
To which I say, bah.
Aesthetics and authority can work both ways, folks. My authority says two spaces, and since it’s equally as random as the opposite authority, I feel perfectly justified in ignoring this intrusion. I won’t force the single-spacers to come over to the my side if they don’t want to do so – they are fully entitled to their little quirk, as it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg – but neither do I feel obliged to take them seriously on this account.
And frankly the single-space thing just looks cramped to me.
Pause a moment. Let your sentence breathe a bit. Savor it before moving on to the next one. Singe-spacing after a sentence makes it look like you’ve got five minutes left to get in ten minutes' worth of material before someone turns out the lights, and you’ve got to squeeze it all in. You’ll give yourself an aneurysm that way.
Now, the problem is that – much like morning people – the single-spacers have taken over the levers of power in the world, and they get snippy when they discover that not everyone buys into their worldview. For crying out loud, the uploader for this blog automatically converts my nicely formatted prose into a breathless rush whether I want it to or not.
Honestly, I thought that was a programming bug that would be fixed someday. Apparently it was intentional. Who knew?
What astounds me more than just the fact that there are so many people leaving out the second space and insisting that they aren’t just taking the shortcut path is the fact that they seem to be so rabid about it. It's amazing to watch unfold.
They have shots for that now.
So I go along my way, merrily double-spacing my sentences the way they should be spaced. And when the tempest dies down, perhaps I can have the teapot back for some nice chai.