When we tried chilling out on our email exclamation mark usage, in an attempt to wean ourselves off our addiction, we noticed some other punctuation crutches we've developed. The exclamation point, as a way to make e-mail feel less stiff and evil, has become a norm -- a composition sans mark is reserved for the cruelest of notes. This has led to an overall exclamation point addiction, as we outlined last week. We suggested it didn't have to be this way! And we took our own advice, refraining from sprinkling all our emails with the point. But, as we removed the mark from our writing we just replaced it with other non-period forms of punctuation. Our addiction manifested itself in other forms. We still feel like we have to use these things to make our electronic correspondences sound not so stiff. It doesn't have to be this way. Again, before we address the problem, we need to understand it in all of its manifestations, lest we give up one exclamation mark replacement for another.
The Ellipses String of Thoughts
Form: Turn an entire email into a full sentence replacing all forms of punctuation with ellipses.
Purpose: This comes from a non-committal email writer. Everything reads like more of a suggestion than a statement.
The Extra Letter Bomb
Form: Add extra letters to one or two choice words. Extra question marks sometimes work, too.
Purpose: This acts as a direct replacement for the exclamation point. But instead of adding emphasis to certain thoughts, adding a bit of tonal whine to a word. "Thannnnkkksss" reads as Thanks! The worst addicts might turn to this instead of the !
THE ALL CAPS BLAST
Form: Either write some words in all capital letters or write an entire e-mail on CAPS lock.
Purpose: This is for our super-enthusiastic emailers. To some it might come off as yelling, but really this serves as a way to ensure people know just how excited the writer is about something.
Periods All Over the Place
Form: Emphasize thoughts by writing one word sentences.
Purpose: It's like staccato for email. It's for the spunky email writer out there.
We admit that getting over this whole exclamation mark addiction is difficult. But these are just crutches. If we ever want to get back to a guilt-free sentence-ending-with-just-a-period email existence, we need to recognize these as part of that addiction and accept that we don't have to use these in our daily mundane correspondences. We recognize there's a time and a place. Just no pressure.
Image via Shutterstock by Jakub Krechowicz