I know better. I know it’s bad for me. I know it’s meaningless and if you need to use it, it’s just a crutch.
I was taught this. Journalism prof after journalism prof lamented the silly exclamation point, and I drank their Kool-Aid, and I saw that, in this case, they were right. Oh, so right.
But then came social media. Then came blogging. Then came communicating in a way that makes it really difficult to show tone, to show to vocal inflection, to show excitement.
Thus, this!! Became!! Totally!! The way!!! I talk!!! Woot!!!
Listen, Mr. Exclamation Point: I think you’re lame. I don’t think you add anything to communication except to make the writer appear to be hyped up on crack. If I am excited, my words need to showcase that. If they do not, I am doing a poor job as a writer.
So this is my Dear John letter. I’m going to quit you, you stupid piece of punctuation. I don’t use you in the stories I write for the newspaper, and I will stop using you in social media.
Refusing to use you does not mean I’m in a bad mood or taking a light-hearted topic too seriously, as I have feared others would think in the past. No, refusing to use you means I’m a grown up, dammit. And you’re just too immature for me.
Even as I type this, I just responded to an instant message with, “Wonderful!!!” Proving that there is, in fact, an exception to every rule. Because when a friend tells you his mother-in-law just came out of surgery and has no sign of cancer, it requires a three exclamation point response.
Him telling me he’s really liking his new shoes? Not so much.