NOTE: Last week my friend Darcey sent me this link to Nikki Waller’s article in the Wall Street Journal about exclamation points and, as my friend commented, “how much weight one little symbol holds.” Here is a blog I wrote on that very subject four years ago. I have since resumed using exclamation points–judiciously, of course–because I don’t want to seem grumpy.
On Facebook and Twitter, being enthusiastic seems to be very important. There’s no such thing as a comment like “That’s funny.” Instead, the responses are more on the order of “That’s funny!!! LOL!!!”
Here are some comments from my Facebook timeline today:
Share to Agree!
You will LOVE!
Squirrel and cat play together!
Love!!!!! (no kidding—5 exclamation points)
I was taught that it is bad form to use exclamation points in writing. Either I am behind the times (entirely possible) or most users of Facebook and Twitter don’t give a fig about punctuation (also possible). The problem with all this over-punctuation is that while “Congratulations!!!” sounds as if you’re really excited for your Facebook friend, “Congratulations.” sounds forced and grudging, as if you really aren’t happy for the friend and may even be resentful.
A subcategory of Exclamation Enthusiasm is that babies are always “Cute!!!” “Adorable!!!” “So precious!” Let’s face it, not all of those babies look that great, especially when they’ve just been born. Photos of women friends also come in for lavish praise: “Beautiful!” “Lovely lady!” “Gorgeous!!!” I’m glad we all support each other by cheering our friends on, but again, sometimes photos don’t merit such enthusiastic responses.
What is to be done? Nothing. No matter how apt, I can’t see commenting, “Baby Olivia is going to be cute as a button in a few months,” or “You look pretty good for your age.”
But at least we can drop all those exclamation points!!!!!
NOTE: It has been a while since I’ve reminded readers to buy my novel, Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate. It is a very well received exploration of a fictional family’s journey through the ups and downs of living with Bipolar Disorder.
If you haven’t bought a copy, go to the link at the top right of this page. If you have read it and like it, urge a friend to buy it. And thank you. (I’d add an exclamation point but that would be hypocritical.)