But now and then I have to let off steam. This is one of those moments.
Punctuation matters, people! It means something. It's the difference between the peaceful panda that eats shoots and leaves and the homicidal bear that eats, shoots and leaves. It's the difference between "A woman, without her man, is nothing" and "A woman: Without her, man is nothing."
Punctuation even saves lives. Poor Grandma is saved by a comma with "Let's eat, Grandma!"
I know that the common defense is that everyday language is informal, and even if there is an initial misunderstanding, eventually our listeners/readers will get it right.
Besides, the argument continues, English evolves. Change makes our language vibrant.
Yes, yes, but does no one understand propriety? I love my little beach dresses and flip-flops, but I wouldn't wear them to a job interview or a funeral. Why are we being subjected to the equivalent of shorts and halter tops when written language requires a little more clothing?
A niece who teaches on the college level reported to me recently that her students are turning in essays that are filled with "text-speak," including "u" instead of "you," "lol" and even "WTF."
I don't believe that there are so many people who don't know that there are grammar and punctuation rules, and that they are as essential to communication as traffic laws are to safety. The casual disregard for the rules is primarily laziness, not ignorance.
Call me old-fashioned, but I'm going to have a hard time taking seriously anything you say if you insist on saying it so sloppily.