Friday, August 31, 2012

The Year of the Exclamation Point!! (is two enough?!)

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
The Atlantic Wire

Link to article:
Let's Go Ahead and Declare It the Year of the Exclamation Point!

One of the modern problems of online or text-based communications is the fact that intention and mood are hard to convey without in-person voice, facial and visual cues. Enter the trusty exclamation point, or two, or three, and such combinations as the exclamation/question mark combo (the QEC to those of us in the know) and the interrobang (‽) to approximate all sorts of emotions on the digital printed page.

Excerpt: "Why an exclamation avalanche is happening now when we've been writing letters for hundreds of years in which we didn't rely upon face-to-face contact or tone or a ton of exclamation points isn't really addressed—the growing numbers are sort of generally attributed to "how we do things now" (i.e., let's blame the Internet)—but we have some additional theories about that we'll get to in a minute.

Yagoda's piece, though, is hardly the first or only word on exclamation points. In May the Atlantic Wire's Rebecca Greenfield wrote that it was time to fix "America's Email Exclamation Point Addiction!" She gave us tips for identifying the various exclamation point mistakes that can occur, insights as to why they do, and a suggestion that we all take it down a few notches, maybe only using one or none where we once used many. But I think we've too far gone. We're in a time of exclamation points and there's no going back, and Yagoda's piece stands as an example of this newfound appreciate of the art. Here's why we love the exclamation point and are likely to use it more and more and more until we grow to despise it or run out of space:

Because it's either nice (or mean). Let's attribute this to "the Internet" too, where people like things to be black or white, not the shades of grey that exist in real life. I'm not saying the Internet has made us lazy, but often the way we are used to consuming information now is in bite-sized pieces with clear opinions or slants that we know from the first few words of a headline. The exclamation point fits in that sort of realm. There's no mistaking it, it's either yelling or it's telling you something very, very nice. It's comforting, in that way.

Because we need it to separate what's important from what's only slightly important. There is too much stuff! So, just as some news organizations and people have taken to writing a word in front of more complicated headlines: SHOCKING or FUNNY or SAD or OMG to inform you of the way in which you should feel about the piece you are about to read, the exclamation point means we have an easy indicator as to what we should really read!!!, kind of read!, or not so much even consider. Is it any wonder that a proliferation of marks has followed, then? If 3 is good, 4 must be really, really great, would be the reasoning. Fortunately Twitter is only 140 characters and there is a built-in limit on how extreme exclamation marking can get. And there is a difference between two exclamation points and three. There really is."


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