When did you and I become so dramatic? When did we start using all caps and 3 exclamation points for every statement that we're trying to convey on the internet.
It began as an exaggerated alter ego. A peppier, more vibrant version of myself. But something interesting began to happen. The printed words and expressions didn't simply remain in a void of internet space, they began to help break me out of the monotony of my own existence. It was like reconnecting with the joy I had as a 5 year old child.
Funny, I didn't know that part of me was still there--just buried, waiting to emerge.
I know. That too, seems so dramatic. An almost life change by simply overusing exclamation marks.
But then again, in our search for significance, or simply wanting to be heard, we sometimes go to extremes just to get each other's attention.
I just spent a little time at some amazing grammar websites and writer's pages. There seems to be quite a bit of disgust at the overuse of the exclamation point:
In "Exclamation! etc.," essayist Lewis Thomas insists that all writers "should be compelled, by law if necessary, to submit professional credentials and undergo a waiting period of seven days before placing an exclamation point at the end of a sentence." Regulation is necessary, he says, to prevent the mark from spreading:
The problem is that once you allow one or two in, they tend to multiply, scattering themselves everywhere, expostulating, sounding off, making believe that phrases have a significance beyond what the words themselves are struggling to say. They irritate the eyes. They are, as well, pretentious, self-indulgent and in the end almost always pointless. If a string of words is designed to be an astonishment, a veritable terror of a string, the words should be crafted to stand on their own, not forced to jump up and down by an exclamation point at the end like a Toyota salesman on TV.
(Et Cetera, Et Cetera: Notes of a Word-Watcher, Little, Brown and Company, 1990) Credit: "Richard's Grammar and Composition Blog"
But in our internet culture of today amidst heavy duty adverts everywhere you turn ("Look NOW!", "Brand new!!!", "Never Before Seen!", "Can't Miss THIS!!!", etc.) it has become commonplace to exaggerate, and to especially exaggerate ourselves, over looking the fine and subtle details that make us so extraordinary. Sometimes it's not in a yell, but in a whisper. But of course we're a bit too busy to lean down to stop to take in such fragile things.
I'm thankful for the exclamation mark, really I am. But like with anything else, in becoming too familiar with such a weighty thing, it causes everything else around it to become commonplace and not quite as exciting as it could have been by itself alone.
And once again, grammar challenges me to become a better person.
Yes. Just like that.