OK, I’m addicted, too. The first step of the 12 step program is that we admit we are powerless over our addiction–in this case, exclamation points and ellipses. (Ellipses are the three dots you see dangling a sentence into infinity. As in: “I am addicted to ellipses…”)
I am also addicted to parentheses. How I love parentheses! (How I love thee, parentheses! When you use parentheses after non-parentheses sentences it’s almost like you’re having a secondary conversation. It’s like you’re whispering secrets to the reader, secrets which could not be revealed in non-parentheses conversation. Parentheses provide the intimate afterthought.)
If you visit Facebook regularly, you will notice our mass addiction to the exclamation point. As a society we are so addicted to our exclaiming! I hesitate to be definitive, but here’s my opinion: We are attempting to display some passion, some excitement, some fervor. The period has become too attached to a bland tone, a matter-of-fact assertion.
Today my friend, Deb, posted a lovely picture on my Facebook wall, followed by an even more lovely sentiment.
Because I am trying to curb my addiction to exclamation points (and perhaps start a new trend in calmer, more mature writing) I replied: “Thank you so much, Deb. This is really lovely.”
However, all day I’ve been disturbed by this. (It is not good when punctuation contains the power to disturb your day. That is when you must write a blog to resolve the matter…)
It looks like I don’t care about Deb. It looks passionless! It looks drab, empty, uncaring, indifferent, aloof, unconcerned, heartless, nonchalant, listless, impervious, disinterested. (You, too, can find 15 synonyms for “uncaring” if you Google your on-line thesaurus.)
OK, back to the 12 step program. I am sure there is something contained within which will ease our punctuation crisis and save us as a society. #2: A power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. (OK, I truly believe in a Power Greater than Ourselves. But does that Power care about our punctuation? Yes, it must. What is the power greater than our exclamation points and ellipses and parentheses? Is it the paragraph? Is it the Whole Thought? Is it something beyond thought? Keep pondering this within the parentheses while the rest of us move out of the parentheses and back into the Main Points.)
# 3: Make a decision to turn our addiction over to the care of God–as we understand Him. (God, will you help me–I can’t say “us”–because everyone might not be ready to take this step–use the exclamation point less frequently?)
#4: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves (Wait a minute–I LIKE exclamation points! I LIKE capital letters! I LIKE ellipses… OK, I know I overuse ’em. Do I overuse them because I’m afraid that my writing will be too drab and lifeless and boring without the spikes of excitement running without? Yes, perhaps. Are you afraid that you sometimes come across as a little insincere with your frequent use of the carrot-like sentence endings? Are you a little insincere? Are you really making fun of the world a little too much? Can you try to end your sentences more often with a calm period?)
OK, that’s only four steps. I think that’s all I need for now. Maybe it’s not really an addiction. (In which case, maybe I need to go back and review Step 1?) Maybe it’s an endearment. A tendency. Something to laugh about. A style. An expression of self and the Universe.
Maybe God WANTS me–you can apply this to yourself if you’re ready–to use EXACTLY these sorts of punctuations. Maybe we’ve simply reached the place in our society where we need more punctuation marks to express the complexity of human beings which we have become. (In which case, please dust off your semi-colon & begin utilizing characters such as @ and # and %and ^and * and & more often.)
Sigh…I think I’m digging myself in deeper with this Punctuation Crisis. Here’s the bottom line. (Ha ha, I just used the “underline” function for the first time in WordPress! Maybe that shall be the NEW exclamation point.) The bottom line is going to be a greater consciousness concerning the appropriate utilization of the exclamation point. (Forget about the ellipses and parentheses for now. I still think they’re endearing.)
You won’t see me using another exclamation point without wondering if it could be said in a less animated fashion. Not another one. Not another one. Not another one…at least until tomorrow. 🙂
PS. Please! (whoops, it’s going to take a while…) Don’t go kicking my sentences around just because I joked about the 12 step program. I think the 12 step program is great. It’s helped a lot of people. I just don’t know how many sentences it’s helped…and whether it can address our societal exclamation mark crisis.
The jury is still out…
P.S.S. While I’m rambling on about punctuation, Barry just appeared and announced: “I can’t believe you wrote a blog about this! ” At his gig last night they were singing the Dan Baird–Georgia Satellites song: “I Love You Period.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFpsDAL4oKE “I love you Period. Do you love me, Question Mark? Please, Please, Exclamation Point…(I want to hold you in Parantheses)…”