There are very few things that irrationally bother me. Like when people put their drinks next to a coaster and not on it. Or when I have to print a page and there's one sentence or less on the last page. And when people argue with me over needing the Oxford comma. Get over it, you don't need it, nor do I want to debate it with you.
Why You Don't Need the Oxford Comma
The first reason why you don't need the Oxford comma is a basic one: AP Style tells you not to use the Oxford comma. The premiere grammar ruling for journalists says we don't need the Oxford comma. The New York Times and other premiere media outlets don't use Oxford commas. It's time to give up the ghost.
If following rules doesn't satiate your desire to stop mocking those of us who refuse to use the Oxford comma, note that it shouldn't be a crutch to making your writing clearer. Check out this Business Insider post about why Oxford commas don't actually help clarity like you're currently whining at me through your computer screen about. Rather than having Stalin and JFK as strippers, you end up with just JFK the stripper. Which -- grammar aside -- I would rather have JFK as a stripper than both him and Stalin. Just sayin'.
Anyway, then Oxford comma zombies throw this court case where the Oxford comma solved the case. To that, I say: this would not have been an issue if people didn't write terrible sentences. That sentence was horribly constructed with or without the comma. They deserved to lose for that tragically written policy.
And for those of us who pull for the little guys, I'm happy to see the employees pulling out the victory. So if you like cheering for the working man, also cheer that not having an Oxford comma saved the day!
If you write clearly, then you don't need need the Oxford comma to 'clarify' anything.
Pro tip: If you find yourself in the strippers, Stalin and JFK situation, restructure the sentence. Perhaps mention the strippers last? I mean, who mentions the strippers before world leaders anyways? But also, who are you expecting to read this sentence who will think that Stalin and JFK became strippers? Jeez people.
Why I Hate the Oxford Comma
Now might be a good time for me to mention why I dislike the Oxford comma. And it's actually just really simple:
- You don't need it (see above)
- I was taught not to use it
- It's easier to not use it
- Sans comma makes the sentence flow more
- It adds no value
- Not having it forces you to make your sentences make sense
My dad once had a pair of headphones, and one of the ears stopped working, so he cut off the offending earbud. I chuckled and asked why he bothered cutting it off.
That's basically a metaphor for Oxford commas. They're not doing anything for you, so get rid of them. Clarity means getting rid of excess, so get rid of the Oxford comma.
Beyond that, I also hate the Oxford comma because of righteous, pretentious Oxford comma supporters. To you all:
You sound pretentious demanding for me to use a stupid comma. Do you know how arrogant you sound? I've written hundreds -- likely even thousands -- of pieces of communications, and I've never had someone say they didn't understand me because there was no comma. In fact, one woman told me I am the best person at email communications. And that's all without a single Oxford comma.
Now please take your hipster comma values away from me.
Whatever. You still love the Oxford comma, and I still hate it.
But seriously, whatever. That's fine. We've argued about the Oxford comma at work before, and it's exhausting. I'm not budging, and I don't expect you to either. So why are we spinning our wheels, going blue in the face over it? Technically, neither are right nor wrong. It just depends on what you perceive to be your grammatical bible.
I'm not a journalist, but I write like a journalist. I'm in the business of Internet copy, which is more mobile than desktop. And mobile screens are tiny. I spend my days coming up with how I can say everything we want in as few words as possible. The more I can condense everything, the more of a win it is for us. So getting rid of a controversial comma does just that. It's one less character. And one less pause. One less moment to reconsider scrolling. Sans-Oxford comma keeps the flow goin'.
I'm going to peacefully disagree with everyone who loves the Oxford comma and just silently delete it from every document I'm in charge of editing. And swipe left on those arrogant men who reference their love of the Oxford comma in their Tinder profiles. Because there are so many other more important things for us to debate than the use of a comma. Like that president we've got.... #trigger.