The exclamation point blues

I’m legendary among my friends and readers for loathing exclamation points. I used to be an agnostic on the subject but it’s out of control in the interweb era: some folks use them like ketchup and pour them over everything. Actually, I have a cousin who used to put peanut butter on everything even my mom’s homemade moussaka. I hope he’s outgrown this disgusting habit but at least he’s from the Norwegian side of the family and those people consume shit like lutefisk and pickled herring. <shuddering>

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, an article that my friend Karen Gadbois stuck on my facebook wall:

I can still remember the pact I made with a co-worker five years ago. We began to notice an alarming increase in the number of exclamation points crammed into e-mails and text messages. False enthusiasm was giving us a headache. The English language had taken enough of a beating, and there was no need for this kind of sucker punch. We would have no part of it.

The problem was that nearly every e-mail I received ended with an overzealous “Thanks!” E-mails and texts cheerfully chimed “Can’t wait to see you!,” and I recall more than a few “How are you!” e-mails. Since when did an exclamation point wrestle a helpless question mark into submission?

The co-worker and I agreed that we would not fall prey to the trend. But I’m now ashamed to admit that I’m just as guilty as those I once chided. I’ve become a serial exclamation pointer.a

I am made of sterner stuff than the author Christopher Muther who seems to be a weak-willed, uh, mutherfucker. I know it’s a cheap pun but it was irresitible. My alternatives were Cotton Mather or Jerry Mathers jokes and I have a fuck quotient to fill…

I remain resolute in my war against promiscuous punctuation. It may not be much of a cause but it’s mine. It even figured in one of my favorite Seinfeld bits:

I’ve always liked Julia Louis-Dreyfus but I disagree with her here. And what’s up with the Swedish subtitles, he exclaimed while refusing to use an exclamation point.

Enough of this nonsense. We’ll be back tomorrow with another episode featuring Cotton Mather as the Beaver…