“An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”
When The Great F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed the exclamation point to be that lame, do we even need to think twice? Since forever, this punctuation mark has been wildly boycotted by professional writers. Originally the exclamation point was just cool and rough – it was supposed to draw attention, like this:
Well, I bet you did not pay attention to the above warning! Until now!!!
Nevertheless, from time to time the exclamation point has been transformed into something light-hearted and whimsical that shouts out to readers “Don’t take me too seriously!!!”. “I hate you!” is just some girl being mad at her boyfriend, while “I hate you.” means painful break-up. Exclamation points strike as those over-enthusiastic friends who wear the heart on the sleeve, and everyone just goes “Meh… that’s fake.” The ultimate demise of them, however, did not come until recently, when the cyber world is conquered by a little buddy called “Emoji”.
One time a friend of mine avoided me in two days, and I did not know what went wrong until I confronted her:
“Is anything wrong? You seem weird since our last talk.”
“Nothing. It’s just… I’m sorry but I was a little disappointed you did not like my present.”
“What? When did I say that?”
“Oh, you did not. But I knew.”
And this is our conversation the day before about that birthday present she gave me, via Facebook messenger:
Her: Hey did you like that dress? >””””< ^^ Me: Yes. Her: Why? I picked out the most beautiful one in the shop >0<
Me: Yes, I know. It looks beautiful. Thanks.
Her: Ok then. 😦
Me: Hello? You busy?
Emojis, to me, are the next generation of exclamation points. As social networks have tremendously shifted the way we communicate, (or not?), we now have returned to the original form of long-distance communication: mails, only that our mails are transmitted so fast that we can write one short “Hi.” and expect the response in the next second. Isn’t it the nature of forums, comment sections or messengers? But that leaves us the truth that we seem unable to emote through words. Without actual facial expressions, we feel insecure about how the other person is reacting to the talk, and that’s when exclamation marks should come in handy. Long before we would have spread them all over the place to show how excited we are; today we replace them with emojis. It’s a textual smile that shows the expected level of enthusiasm. Without it, everything sounds ignorant and negative. And that’s where I deserved my friend’s anger: I “talked” with no emojis.
I am not a big fan of the exclamation point, but I would miss it if the world dump it for emojis. Still languages change. I just hope one thing never goes extinct: our feeling. No matter what ends the sentence, hopefully there’re real emotions behind.