(Our addiction to !!! and …)

Floating exclamation marks? (Sorry, reader. How does one provide punctuation photos?)

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.)

Lots of exclamation marks lined up in a row (in Venice)

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.

Disappearing? Or re-appearing?

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.)

Watch out for the Punctuation Polizia.

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…

Always consider your proper punctuation usage. (And please, Kiah, do not kill your mother for using these photos to illustrate this blog.)

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)…”

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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50 Responses to (Our addiction to !!! and …)

  1. holessence says:

    Kathy – You completely and totally CRACK ME UP! Your post provided a GRAND laugh in this chilly afternoon. For that I THANK YOU!

  2. Wonderful photos! and yes…. please continue to use exclamation points, parentheses, etc…. because the reader cannot hear you, these little extras help to convey the feeling and meaning behind what you are saying. It has ALWAYS been a pet-peeve of mine when I see someone type something (especially in an email), and they didn’t use any appropriate punctuation. How are you supposed to understand the meaning of what they are saying??!! I sometimes go to great lengths in my emails to explain something to someone, and when they respond with a simple “Thanks.”…. WOW, do I get irritated! What do they mean by that? Is it sarcastic?? Is it genuine?? How do I know?? My point here…. is to keep doing exactly what you do, I love the way you write – the reader really gets a sense of what you are talking about, and the feeling that you put into it. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Holly, I wish every one of my readers would read the comments and hear what you just said. YOU hit the nail on its head. Hit the nails on their heads. It’s all about trying to express ourselves more clearly. So that people will realize when we’re humored, when we’re sad, when we’re joking. Poor Deb is probably wondering what the heck I meant by “thanks” on that Facebook wall. I mean, how would she FIGURE IT OUT? lol…it’s a new world. We need to attempt to show our emotions and feelings somehow. Thanks for this reply.

  3. kryssyhidden says:

    OMC! Oh, My Creator. Kathy you had me laughing throughout the who post while I was reading it. Of, course not laughing at the 12-Step program I’m in one. I’m sure you know this already, but I’ll just put it out there any ways parentheses are used when You can finish a sentence, but you need to add a little more information that the reader needs like:My English professor had explained it to us (and I understood it right away).

    • Kathy says:

      Kryssy, I am glad you liked this. I am glad you were laughing! I thought, “I am writing one heckofa crazy blog!” but it was sure fun… Thank your English professor for me, will you? Sounds like he’s right on.

  4. OM says:

    I haven’t hit bottom (yet) !!!!…….


    Utterly delightful, Kathy!!!
    Utterly delightful, Kathy…..
    (Utterly delightful) Kathy.

    See how different those are!!!?????

    Ditto everything everyone said, including you, Kathy. :)) Thank you for the utterly wonderful writing and the so-happy laughter today!


    • Kathy says:

      OM, your comments brought a huge smile to my face! A HUGE smile to my face!! (A huge smile to my face!) I laughed like crazy writing this…glad it brought some joy and laughter into your life, as well. So good to see you.

  5. Sybil says:

    I agree with OM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. barb says:

    Well! I don’t know…(Maybe I’M guilty, too.) PS I don’t think I can underline in comments – (or I would….!!)

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, smiling…this was fun. Whether we’re all guilty or not, we certainly have fun! (And I am thinking more consciously about whether I want to use exclamation points or not.)

  7. OM says:

    Great, Sybil !!!! The next round’s on me!!!!! LOL!!!!!!

  8. Barbara Rodgers says:

    To me, an exclamation point indicates enthusiasm, so in my book they cannot be overused! Excitement is indicated with more than one exclamation point, the exact number corresponding with the level of excitement. But then again, I live in my own little world… with my own little rules…

    Love the “Exclamatory!” picture!!! I’m constantly amazed and amused at how you find the perfect pictures to illustrate your points!! Please keep writing the way you’ve been writing because your posts are fantastic!!!

    • Kathy says:

      “Enthusiasm can never be overused” –Barbara Rodgers. lol! I was completely amazed to discover that this set of Venice photos could be used to describe exclamation points. Maybe because our frame of mind when Kiah and I visited Italy was definitely exclamatory!

  9. Karma says:

    So funny you posted this! I’ve recently come to wonder about my own use of exclamation points, especially in commenting on blogs. I use them because when I post a comment, it is usually because I feel something strongly enough to want to talk about it, so the exclamations come out. Like Holly said, it isn’t always easy to express your emotion in a comment (or a text or an email)so we need to add punctuation and emoticons 🙂 😉 😀 :mrgreen: too!

    • Kathy says:

      I’m glad you’ve been thinking about this, too, Karma. We have to ponder these important issues. Think how often people “take a sentence or thought the wrong way.” If you add your feeling and emotion, I think they are less likely to do so. Maybe? (Like all those emoticons…)

  10. Colleen says:

    Oh my, yes (much laughter fading into giggles and smiles). I so agree with Barbara. And I have a retorical question to throw out into the universe. When have excitement and animation and enthusiasm become passe? And how the heck do we non-writers express these emotions if it is no longer acceptable, in polite society, to use all of those marvelous little dots and dashes and combinations of curves and lines in our written communication? Just a question 🙂

    • Colleen says:

      Meaning me, not we:)

      • Kathy says:

        You know, Colleen, I could write a complete blog about the way we people use pronouns. We, me, you. Like who are we talking about anyway? But never mind. No pronoun blogs for us in the near future. I mean, from me. But you never know. One might just sneak in sideways.

    • Kathy says:

      When HAVE excitement and animation and enthusiasm become passe? HOW RIGHT YOU ARE!! Let us renew them with great joy! Let us reclaim our right to punctuate with great abandonment! No questions here…only total agreement, Colleen. 🙂

  11. Kathy, it occurs to me reading you that !!!!….(aha) and the punctuation emoticons:o)
    are text body language. How can we convey meaning in text w/o something that stand in for talking w/hands, tapping foot, or shrugging shoulders? I mean, holy *#$&, seriously… no kidding…WTF!!!! That’s stand in for potty mouth, not body language, but you get the idea.

    • Kathy says:

      Carla, yes, yes, yes! (Tapping Toe excitedly) Punctuation is really body language. The body has been attempting to find a way into the Mind’s communication and it discovered that punctuation completely fit the bill. (Head turns sideways to look out window.) (Fingers dance on keyboard.) Leave it to you to recognize what the body was trying to reveal!

  12. Susan D says:

    Bottom Line … and underlining. LMAO!!!! Wow! Look at all my exclamation points and my ellipses … This is a GREAT topic! Now, here’s part of the deal for me: There are no functions here or on facebook for italics, bolding, etc., so what IS a person to do? I am an expressive person. I am not a ho-hummer person, unless the topic is serious and warrants a calm, rational response.. I do LOVE the ellipses … it’s a segue, a longer transition … time for silence between thoughts … ahhh, enough. I have not done justice to reading the comments tonight as I popped in late … perhaps it’s all been said … Love the topic, love the pictures and love you for constant surprises and delight!

    • Susan D says:


      • Kathy says:

        I wonder if some folks don’t even realize that capital letters mean screaming and yelling? That’s what I usually think–that they don’t have a clue. Our trouble is that we start reading their capital letters in a screaming tone and we get a headache. Wondering now if it’s possible to read a text in all caps in a whisper? It might help.

    • Kathy says:

      I am so thrilled, utterly thrilled, that you agree, Susan D! And yes, serious conversations warrant periods. Period. I love ellipses for the same reason. They invite us into silence, into thinking about things longer. (Truly, I am amazed when the Universe assigns me these topics upon which to write. I was meditating when–suddenly–the whole Punctuation Issue interrupted the silence. “Go write about Punctuation,” The Universe commanded. What else doth one do but obey?” lol!)

  13. john says:

    You have hit the nail on the head. Now if you could get them to remove the exclamation points from all the packaging in the grocery store.

  14. jeffstroud says:


    This is truly wonderful! Who would have thought of it, put some one who writes for fun and uses humor and spirit to direct her words. Write a way… use what you wish, punctuate all you wish to express your emotions, your desires, etc.

    I am glad to see Laurie’s Grand Laugh, and Deb’s expressions of how one is suppose to understand or know what the writer is saying or expressing.
    Blogs, email, texting, tweeting, are all new forms of communications, which seem to throw the old style out the window in to the canal.

    Too cool!


    • Kathy says:

      Isn’t it fun to live on the cutting edge? I have a couple of friends who are Punctuation and Grammar Nazis though. They take out their guns and point at improperly used text and sometimes they even shoot! (One was a college English professor.) I am afeared to be around them with written words. Truly.

  15. Pingback: Not quite | kryssyworld

  16. Ah…let’s see (wait, bad start.) Okay, let me say this about that! Oh, that is way too strong a way to write it. Let me softly state, I like this post very much. Hope (I really do!) I did not understate my feelings about this post. If I did, I didn’t mean too. I really LIKED it!

  17. Carol says:

    I have learned that I too am addicted to exclamation points, ellipses and parentheses. I have determined that I need that addiction, especially since I’m busy working on breaking my addiction of starting sentences with “but”, “and”, “so” and other such words… Let’s not go overboard with the perfection striving, please!!!!!

  18. Great post, Kathy! Add me to the addicted, too (I’m sure you figured that out already, though ;-))
    LOVE the last picture… and the other ones, too. They remind me of a summer a long, long time ago (I think I was 13 or 14) when we spent our summer vacation in Yugoslavia and took a day trip to Venice.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, I’m glad I’m not the only addicted one. A summer vacation in Yugoslavia–with a side trip to Venice–sounds absolutely wonderful. I loved Venice. I would like to return some day, perhaps.

  19. bearyweather says:

    Okay, you caught me …. I am totally addicted to “….” they are the pauses in my thoughts as I write. I usually go back and remove most of them, so I am trying to fight the addiction.
    …. However, I never “!!!” That was a “no-no” that was ingrained in my brain way back in high school. Without !!! … I am forced to find more creative ways to express !!!

    • Kathy says:

      My daughter and I got in a long conversation about exclamation points last night. (Go figure.) She told me she figured out her exclamation philosophy about three years ago. (I am a slow learner. It is taking me until now to realize I should have an exclamation philosophy.) She said she would never ever use three exclamation marks in a row. Never. Ever. (I like that you are forced to find more creative ways to express…)

  20. flandrumhill says:

    (Kathy, please tell Barry that your ability to choose off-the-wall topics is only exceeded by your ability to cleverly write about them).

    • Kathy says:

      (Amy-Lynn, I will most definitely pass that along. Since Barry is a columnist, we keep egging each other on. I suppose his topics have to be–how shall we say it?–a little more sedated for the local newspaper. But you never know. Perhaps he’ll steal my exclamatory post for his own!) ((no, no, he would never steal a post of mine. If he asks politely, I may share.)) 🙂

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