Paragraph Targeted for Assassination

Anyone who uses Facebook with any regularity has probably discovered that the premier social networking engine has launched an all-out war on the paragraph. In Facebook threads — responses to statuses or links, but not the original statuses themselves — hitting “return” will now not give you a new paragraph; it’ll post your comment.

Facebook Fail and the Death of the Paragraph seem to be the new order of the day. If Facebook could just stop changing things for one damn minute, maybe I’d send off a Strongly Worded Letter to their engineers. Though I imagine they’d encourage me to “Post your thoughts to the Wall of our engineering department…and keep it to one paragraph, please.”

Is this Facebook’s version of the Oscar music? Is this the social networking engine’s way of strongly suggesting that your response to your buddy’s post is already too long? Are they trying to suggest that incidentally you talk too much to begin with and how f*$#!@ing much can one person say about a picture of your ex-housemate’s six-month-old weimaraner puppy looking guilty amid the remains of a slaughtered meatloaf?

Or, to put it another way, is Facebook trying to trick you into posting your comment, even if you don’t want to? That wouldn’t surprise me very much; all social networking tools have been getting increasingly pushy since day the first Friendster engineer crawled out of the primordial ooze, shook DNA soup off its tentacle and said, “Invite your friends!”

I’ve seen more pissed-off comments about the post-on-return feature than almost anything else Facebook has modified in the frenzied, power-drunk change-orgy it’s been escalating over the last year. Apparently, in addition to altering its privacy settings every five minutes in an attempt to get more marketing data of dubious utility, Facebook has also decided that, as our new social secretary, it can move things along when they lag. Like when you hit return.

Is this another assault on the English language? (Or whatever language you write in — do they have paragraphs in Hindi, Chinese or Paraguayan Guarani? I have no idea…)

Is the Facebook-enforced Death of the Paragraph, like the reduction of all our thoughts to 140-character soundbites, another attempt to edit human endeavor for brevity’s sake? Will this “helpful” feature migrate into other venues…like other online forums, and ultimately Microsoft Word? It’s gonna make things kinda rough for poets…though it certainly will help ’em when they show up at poetry slams. “Three minute limit? No problem. All my poems are only one line…”

I have to say…I’m not one to fight the onward march of progress, but…I kinda liked the paragraph.

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3 comments on “Paragraph Targeted for Assassination
  1. You can always shift-enter, which will give you a new paragraph.

    Yes, I understand, you shouldn’t _have_ to hit shift-enter to get a new paragraph, but there are a great many things in life which we do that we shouldn’t have to do.

  2. First the attack on the double space after a period and now this! This is the breakdown of civilized discourse! I demand that a Victorian grammar instructor start whacking knuckles and knocking heads.

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