Thinking constantly about negative events increases inflammation in the body, according to a 2013 study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University.
That does not fare well for me.
I accept this and hereby clear all negativity from my soul. For my own health.
Don’t worry, I found a topic to write about that is so innocuous there’s no way it can get my blood pressure up.
Exclamation Points! Or if you prefer, exclamation marks!
Some of these ideas were inspired by the Vox/Netflix series, Explained. Each episode focuses on a different topic and “explains” it to the viewer in as much depth as is possible in a twenty-minute long show.
When the episode about exclamation marks came on, I almost turned it off. It seemed uninteresting to me. I haven’t had a drink in a few days, so almost everything seems that way. Open-minded me decided to give it a chance.
And I’m glad I did!!! <–see what I did there?
In some ways, the exclamation point was the first emoji. It was something you could slap on the end of a sentence to convey additional meaning.
Before the exclamation point, there were only two ways to end a sentence. Period, aka, full stop, or question mark.
So where did the punctuator also known as “bang” come from?
Explained exclaimed it was claimed to be made by the Italian poet Iacopo Alpoleio da Urbisaglia in the fifteenth century!
That’s a long time ago! What I found interesting about this particular symbol was how its usage has changed over time. It used to be used for exclaiming something. For example, this line from everyone’s favourite storybook:
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light!
Note that the exclamation points you find in the world’s most beloved fairytale were not put there by the original authors, but by those doing the various translations. You may find this hard to believe, but the decision of whether something was simply “said” or “exclaimed” in our modern translations of the Bible was left up to man, not God.
The point is that in the old days, the exclamation point was used fairly sparingly.
Fast forward to the 20th century. Explained explained that the use of the punctuator increased with the advent of several new art forms including comic books and print advertising. The advertising industry got so carried away with exclamation points that they came up with new marks.
The interrobang (a cross between a question mark and an exclamation mark), was created in 1962 by Martin K. Spekter, a journalist-turned-ad man.
Some other marks that didn’t quite catch on over the years include the Rhetorical Question Mark, Irony Mark, Love Point, Acclamation Mark, Certitude Point, Double Point, Authority Point, SarcMark, SnarkMark, Asterism, Exclamation Comma, and Question Comma. Credit goes to this article.
Do these remind you of anything? They remind me of emoticons or emojis, which I ranted about at length, here. Unlike emojis, the marks I listed above have not come into common use. Not like the exclamation mark. So the question is…
“To use or not to use an exclamation mark?!” That is the question! The other question is, how many should I use?
When Explained asked a group of copywriters about it, their answers varied wildly. One even said, “You get to use one exclamation point in your career. Use it wisely.” Others said they use them all the time.
The truth is, how much punctuation you sprinkle on your emails may depend on what gender you identify as.
This VICE article cites studies that show women use a lot more exclamation points than men. Until yesterday I never imagined a sentence-ending glyph could be made into a gender issue. It’s okay. We are different. We don’t have to end our sentences the same way!!!
If you’re into feminism, I would strongly suggest you check out the VICE article (but not because a man told you to).
The article centres around business communication and the idea that women are “damned if they do, and damned if they don’t” when it comes to the use of the punctuation symbol that exclaims. In business, it is advantageous for a woman to be friendly, yet assertive, and in an email, the exclamation point is often the paintbrush that defines the line between the two.
For the collective:
In digital communication, we lack the non-verbal cues of a regular conversation. We try to compensate with emojis and words like “LOL”, but are we really smiling ear-to-ear and “laughing out loud” that often?
I don’t LOL very often. I don’t exclaim very often. That doesn’t mean it is right or wrong. I equate the constant LOL-ing I see with the exclamation point. It could be used a lot less. At the same time, writing is a style, and if your style is to use a lot of exclamation points, then go for it!!! Just remember that symbols exist to convey meaning and when communicating non-verbally it is prudent to be cognizant of what we mean to say.
Besides, we don’t have to rely on one silly symbol to say what we mean! We have a whole dictionary full of these other things that can do that much better. And there are more being added every day!!!