Hey, guess what?!!!! Exclamation points in emails, texts, and Instant Messenger-types of conversations are seriously overused and seriously aNnnoooyyYingG!!!!! A recent article in Salon discussed the pervasive overusage of the typed exclamation point, pointing out that most of us -- myself included -- feel the need to always punctuate the sentence "thank you" with an exclamation point instead of a period. Possibly three. "Thank you!!!" Not "Thank you." The author of the article humorously noted that it's as if we're writing to someone who "just sent us a kidney instead of an invoice."
This is why communicating via electronics sucks and always will.
By no means am I the first person to shed light on this, but the topic of email exclamation points naturally lends itself to such a thought: It is nearly impossible to decipher a person's tone through typed words. Things that are meant to be read sarcastically read seriously. Things that are meant to be read seriously read sarcastically. And one-word answers to questions are misconstrued as their author being pissed, creating an unnecessary sense of worry and anxiety for the inquisitor. It's one of the more irritating aspects of technology. It's an aspect that, in a way, can only be dealt with by typing an exclamation point.
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Conversely, I sometimes think that, because the exclamation point is so widely used, its tamer counterpart, the period, in some circumstances, is now almost considered rude, maybe even a little condescending. For instance, if you and I were emailing back and forth with each other, and you asked me if we could meet at 7:30 instead of 7, and I answered with, "Sure.", doesn't that seem like I'm slightly annoyed? Even if I'm totally not, it could read like that, thanks to the exclam. If I used an exclamation point, you would know I was cool with the change in time. Or even if I just didn't use any punctuation at all -- "Sure" -- it wouldn't read as irritated, right? There's something more serious now about the period. "Sure."
As much as we point out how annoying communicating through text/email/whatever is, though, I really don't see much changing. So, maybe we should just all suck it up and it embrace it!
Or we could all just suck it up and embrace it. But that doesn't sound quite as fun.
Are you an exclam user?
Image via Nicole Fabian-Weber