Thursday, June 14, 2012
I've caught myself using way too many of these lately - !
Yes, the exclamation point.
I use it in texts.
I use it in e-mails.
I use it on FB.
I use it here on this blog.
I sometimes use it with question marks. You know what I'm talking about - ?!?!
I occasionally tack a smiley face onto it - !:)
To some, it is the most dreaded punctuation mark in existence. To social media hounds, it has fast become the most loved symbol for showing enthusiasm, joy, agreement and practically anything that mimics excitement.
I was once in the former category, but have found myself drifting into the deep waters of the all-too-frequent-explanation-point user status.
I saw a cartoon in The New Yorker a few weeks ago poking fun, as most New Yorker cartoons do, at its overuse. It said something to the effect of “I’ve become immune to exclamation points.”
Seinfeld fans will likely remember the episode when Elaine goes ape about the use of exclamation points.
Social media just makes it so darn easy to get away with. That and it's more enjoyable to exclamation point your way through a thought.
I teach journalism students to avoid this punctuation mark like the plague, yet here I am posting away most days with that heinous symbol spread throughout.
While I still think the exclamation point should rarely be used in print publications, in online formats and in texts, it helps clarify meaning. Adding an exclamation point or smiley face softens the tone of a message that might otherwise be misconstrued or come across as too harsh.
It also puts you, the writer, in a better mood.
So while students that use this symbol will continue to lose points each time it appears, I'm happy to use it freely here.
Well, not too freely.
I hereby restrict myself to one exclamation point per post!