I remember a time in my life when people were rarely excited. As a kid, I don’t remember the level of excitement ever quite reaching a fever pitch. Back in elementary school, every sentence we wrote for English would end in a period. It didn’t matter what was happening. The story would read like this:
As John took a step, his foot slipped out from under him. Suddenly, he found himself teetering on the edge of the cliff.
“No,” Tim screamed furiously.
Of course, we can all see that Tim is not furiously screaming anything. In all actuality, he is just simply stating he would prefer that John did not plummet to his death. With that level of reaction, we can assume Tim was not that good of a friend.
After turning in this wonderful piece of storytelling (I won’t spoil it for you, but John is saved by a magical bald eagle), teachers would tell us to try to use different punctuation. Why not an exclamation mark? “It could liven up the story,” the would say.
Apparently, a lot of people took that advice to heart.
Now, it seems people want to shout every piece of news from a mountain top, informing the entire world of their discovery. If you don’t believe me, look through your text messages. If you’re able to ignore the fact that people think the word “you” is too difficult to spell out, you’re likely to notice that everyone is exclaiming everything.
In fact, the first text you will see on my phone is an exclamation from my wife. While many times the exclamation mark in a text is there to show a sense of urgency, this is what my text says:
“Anderson Cooper has a talk show!”
I’m sure Anderson Cooper is a fine human being. He seems very kind and I find it highly unlikely that anyone in the world hates him. Ladies love his jawline that seems to be carved from granite and men really couldn’t care less if he continued to host a television program or not, but they definitely do not wish him death.
That being said, the fact that Anderson Cooper has a talk show does not seem like something that should share a punctuation mark with a statement like, “Look out! The zombies are behind you!” or “You ate my sandwich! Prepare to die!”
These little marks of excitement are everywhere. Your Facebook probably has multiple status updates reading like they were the most exciting news ever. I am only slightly interested in your dog, but posting a picture with the caption, “AWWW! TOOO CUTE!” does not change that.
On Twitter, if a person doesn’t end a tweet with an exclamation mark, it is boring and definitely not worth reading. If I were to tweet, “Just ate a burrito #yummyfoodsinmytummy,” it would definitely not carry the same weight as “JUST ATE A BURRITO! #seehowexcitediamaboutfood.”
Even newspaper headlines are beginning to add exclamation marks. This is from a medium that, after one of the bigger disasters of the 20th century, printed, “Hindenburg Explodes: 30 Die in Crash of Airship.” If this were written today, it would probably read something more like this: “OH NO! Hindenburgh Blows Killing 30!” Then, it would be followed by an editorial blaming the explosion on Republicans/Democrats/Barack Obama/Sarah Palin/Kim Kardashian’s butt.
I personally feel like this has become a boy who cried wolf scenario. Now, I will never know when I am actually supposed to be excited. What level of excitement do I show a friend who is on fire when my friend used six exclamation marks to tell the world she was baking cookies?
For the sake of all of us, go easy on the exclamation marks. Someday you will actually need to use one for emphasis but we will be so immune that it won’t register that you really need someone to call 911. After all, you acted this excited about a sale on yams at Trader Joes just yesterday.
If you still feel that everything is important enough for an exclamation, you may want to see a doctor. You clearly need some sort of mood stabilizer.