Friday, 2 March 2012

The rise and fall of the exclamation mark.

It came from no where.  I mean, we never used it in school, well rarely. We were told in no uncertain terms they were not to be used willy nilly.  This piece of punctuation was to be taken seriously, not carelessly tossed about the place with no regard for the consequences. This was no harmless little comma. No, the exclamation should be used on special occasions, like the gravy boat sat in the "good china" press that only made an appearance at Christmas and Easter. Shrieking, shouting, screaming; all of these allowed for an exclamation. But who shrieks or shouts or screams in a written text? Not many of us, so the exclamation kept it's special position, looking down superciliously at the full stops, apostrophes and ampersands, laughing haughtily.

A picture speaks a thousand exclamation marks.
And then there was texting. Overnight the exclamation went from no use to overuse.  Everyone had something so important to say that it required numerous exclamations and CAPS TOO IF IT WAS ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING!!!!!!! The exclamation was not the only victim of generation text, the question mark suffered too. Sometimes people had a question that they really didn't know the answer to: Where should I go on my holiday??? And there were the rhetorical questions that brought both punctuation marks together: Hath not a Jew eyes????!!!!

Suddenly everyone was screaming and shouting and telling the whole world how flippin' offended they were by everything. At first the exclamation enjoyed all the attention, this new found fame.  Little did he know what was to become of him.  With the launch of social networking sites the trend spread and soon it was totally unacceptable to use a full stop. Surely if what you had to say had any merit it must warrant an exclamation mark, or two or three.. hundred? It wasn't long before the special position of the exclamation was lost.

Social media sites have been around a long time now, with no sign of a reduction in exclamation usage.  Whenever I read someone's Facebook status I find myself shouting their comments in my head. I have to ask: Why are people so angry, why do they feel the need to exclaim everything, isn't saying something enough any more? And worst of all, why do I find myself overusing the little bastards too?


  1. I know what you mean. They have become more common than ditchwater. However, I see exclaiming as not just being an angry thing. Its also excitement and joy and surprise. So I guess its overuse on social networking sites is because people are normally updating their status when they are either angry, happy or surprised.

  2. Ah yeah, I was just being a particularly moaney cow this week!!!!! ;)