The internet has made communicating so easy that there is a tendency to disregard proper spelling and grammar in emails and web pages. I am not suggesting that I have never misspelled a word or left typos in my emails. No one is perfect, but I try to make sure that what I have typed is coherent so I do not appear to be a parakeet randomly pecking at the keyboard. This problem would be nearly non-existent if people made the effort to read their emails before sending them, resulting in emails that make a positive impression upon the recipient. I have yet to figure out why exactly, but one of the most disturbing errors I see in emails is the extreme overuse of exclamation marks.
In emails, there isn't an easy way to convey emotions, inflection of the voice or sarcasm. If you type something in an email, it can easily be misinterpreted since you have little control on how they read it. The use of smiley faces, underlining words to show emphasis and putting comments in parentheses all help to express a thought more clearly. Using these additions has a side effect of augmenting their meaning. When someone uses all uppercase letters, I imagine them screaming their entire message at me. By the same token, when a sentence is followed by an exclamation mark I read the sentence as if the person is exuberantly declaring their message. Two exclamation marks indicate the person is so animated they are falling out of their chair. Three exclamations means they're soiling their pants with excitement. I doubt such extreme levels of enthusiasm are intended by the writer. I also submit that five exclamation marks is right out.
The saying, "Less is more" rings true in the case of exclamation marks. One will suffice for almost any occasion, and forming a small army of exclamation marks to attack your reader with excruciating force is entirely unnecessary. Another appropriate analogy would be the boy who cried exclamation mark. If you use it all the time then people will begin to realize that you really don't have anything to exclaim. They will probably assume you have become addicted to their use and can't stop. One of the worst cases I have ever seen of exclamation excess was in the greeting from a personal ad. Every single sentence ended with an exclamation mark. One would think that generally, people want to make a good impression, but shouldn't that be even more true in a personal ad? What kind of person has so much exuberance bubbling from them that everything they say is an exclamation?
Perhaps I am overly sensitive to our friend the exclamation mark. Perhaps he really likes to be with his friends. Perhaps exclamation marks get scared of being all alone amidst all the letters since most offenders don't bother to end sentences with any punctuation at all if they're not using an exclamation mark. If this is the case, I must advise you that the exclamation mark is a sick and twisted creature indeed. As a final remark about this serious problem rampant in our society today, I have provided an example of an email, followed by a version revised to be less exclamatory. The red text is incorrect. Green text is what I revised.
Now isn't that better? Doesn't that give you the impression that there is an intelligent life form on the other end of the email? I hope this little rant has given you reason to change your ways if you're an over-user. If you're not, than maybe you could respond to emails like the one above with corrections to aid them in their battle with exclamation marks. Let's try to turn this problem around and make the world a better place. (And you thought I was going to use multiple explanation marks at the end of this to be funny!!!!)
Apparently I'm not the only one to have noticed this behavior. I received this email as yet another example to learn from:
Updated Oct 25, 2016