Over the past two days, I've spent at least three and a half hours at my job making sure that the hyphens and en-dashes were used correctly. Or, if not exactly correctly, at least consistently.
Last year, while visiting friends in Dallas, I actually had a discussion about this very topic with a friend of mine. We agreed that although... yes... the two types of punctuation are definitely different, and... yes... they do have their purposes, we've never really cared that much about them.
Mainly, I don't care much about the en-dash. I'd rather just uses hyphens. (I'd show you the differences, but you can't put en-dashes into blog posts - which kinda goes toward my point of most people not caring.)
But there are people in the world - especially in the editing/proofreading world - where the distinction is important and not to be mucked about with. And I realized, on page 996 of the book I'm working on at my job, that I hadn't been paying appropriate attention to them at the start of the manuscript.
So I started searching for mis-used hyphens and en-dashes. And searching. And correcting the ones that were wrong. And searching some more. For three and a half hours.
Yes, this is my job. Yes, I know that it's important to some people. Yes, I know I should really care. But, mainly, I was doing the re-work to make sure that the author wouldn't complain and make me go back through it again later. Which I guess is a kind of caring.
But I wouldn't send myself a Hallmark card for it.