Thursday, July 8, 2021

Stop Abusing Exclamation Points!!!

In a dim and dusty church basement, I slowly stand up, clear my throat, and nervously say, “My name is Bill, and I’m an exclamation point-aholic.”

Everyone in the crowded room replies in unison: “HI BILL!!!!”

Seeing the shocked expression on my face, one guy smiles at me and says, “Don’t worry, Bill. We’re kidding. Just a little prank we like to play on the new folks.”
If you’ve been involved with emails, texts, and/or social media in recent years, then you know exclamation point abuse is out of control. There really ought to be a 12-step program to reign in this offensive grammatical, punctuational misconduct. And I’m not kidding!!!!

Oops, there I go again. Sorry. It’s become such a bad habit that I can’t even acknowledge receiving a simple message without typing, “OK, thanks!!”
I’m pretty sure every grammarian in the country would say “OK, thanks” does not require a single exclamation point, let alone two. (But it certainly needs one period, with “period truancy” being another troubling aspect of modern communication.)

In my mind, this sinister addiction to exclamation points has reached the stage where I now consider a simple “OK, thanks” to be far too insincere and perfunctory. What if the other person thinks my expression of thanks is phony and mechanical? What if he interprets my lack of exclamation points as a sign that I’m actually not very thankful, or that my bland punctuationless reply is really dripping with sarcasm?! I simply have to let him know that I’m really, REALLY thankful!! I just HAVE to include some exclamation points!!!

Oh my, do you see how this thing can spiral out of control?
At an online “questions & answers” forum dedicated to grammar, someone asked whether it’s acceptable to use two exclamation points. Here’s the answer: “Never. At least not for grammatical purposes. More than one exclamation mark doesn’t have any meaning. An exclamation doesn’t get more ‘exclamation-y’ by more marks.”

Oh yeah? Well, I happen to think an exclamation gets way more exclamation-y the more marks you use. So there!!

Modern digital communications have turned most people into grammatical illiterates. (Or is that “illiterate grammarians”??? [Oops, I have a question mark abuse issue, too. {And apparently parentheses abuse is another personal pathology.}])

That reminds me of a funny T-shirt I saw a while ago. The top line said, “LET’S EAT GRANDMA.” The second line said, “LET’S EAT, GRANDMA.” And the bottom line said, “PUNCTUATION SAVES LIVES!” (See how a little comma makes things much calm-ah? [Notice how I used a Boston accent on “calmer” to make it rhyme? {Uh oh, again with the out-of-control parentheses!}])

These grammatical mistakes are not to be confused with typos. Typos are errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation as a result of typing too hurriedly. In our hectic, fast-paced world, who has time to proofread anymore? We just type away and then hit “send.”
Instead, I am referring to willful grammatical blunders (also known as “blundergrams” to those of us who pretend that we’ve read the AP Stylebook). The addiction to exclamation points, along with the use of “cuz”, “gonna”, and “thru” are pretty much taken for granite these days. (Yeah, I know I typed “granite.” Just wanna see if yur paying attention.)

The laughter finally dies down in the church basement. As I stand in front of dozens of people, I can feel my face getting red and my throat tightening up. I am determined to beat my exclamation point addiction, and I know I must share my story and be strengthened by the encouragement of the group.
I take a deep breath and say, “I, uh, I don’t know when my addiction began. But irregardless of that…”

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