This past week I was texting with a friend, trying to find a time that we could get together and hang out. I hadn’t seen her in a minute. I was met with very short responses and a lot of….periods. And my heart starts to race.
Periods these days seem to be evil queens of punctuation. Bold statements in and of themselves, signifying displeasure, indifference, and they are torturous to the receivers. And scream unspoken (or written) intention.
As I feared, the conversation did not end well. The issue has since been resolved and we are back to an exclamatory level. But this fear has translated into any written correspondence I have. In my emails to customers here, I start most off with a
“Thanks for reaching out! Yes, we do offer 6 week classes here…”
Because I’m scared if I write anything without the exclamation it will be taken the wrong way. I mean look at the difference.
“Thanks for reaching out. Yes, we do offer 6 week classes here…
See how much of a bitch that second person responding is? She is bothered by you. And thinks less of you. At least thats what I’m afraid you’re going to think. So I add ! And at the same time, I’m aware that ! might make me look childish and dumb. After all,
Cut out all these exclamation points…An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
But these days I’ve been conditioned to think that exclamations signify that a good mood. periods tell you STAY AWAY. Even if there is a bit of bad news, I feel the need to follow a . up with a 😦 to let you know I’m not delivering this bad news with malice, I too am sad that we can’t let you into a class that is three weeks in. It must come from the social need to be pleasant. You never know who you are talking to, after all. Perhaps because for as much as I email, text do seem to be the way I communicate most and they are made for quick and pleasant exchanges (I wish someone would tell my friend that).
There is a theory in a book entitled SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe, that emails are so emotionless naturally that exclamations are the quickest way to spruce them up!
….Yeah, thats exactly what I’m doing, just sprucing it up for you! But what if ! is not enough. After all, someone did invent emoticons. I use to dream of writing beautifully. Long structured ways to convey exactly what my heart wishes to express. Now I just want to agree with your political thoughts in the shortest way possible.
So maybe I will pull back a little bit. I’ll give you, reader the benefit of the doubt that you know my intentions are in the right place without the use of so many ! or 🙂 And if I get complaints that my correspondence is short or rude then I’ll know that the truth is what I think it is. That we are heading towards a new way of communication. Of !s and 😻s. And I will embrace it. And capitalize on it by adding and teaching a new class here in Gotham entitled: