If you have ever texted a teenage girl, I can guarantee you, your lack of exclamation points has been misconstrued as disdain for everything she stands for. If you’ve ever replied to your mom’s email with biting sarcasm, I can guarantee you, she took you seriously and passed along to your grandma that you want a gift card from Hooters for your birthday. And if your knee-jerk reaction to a text message has ever been a string of smiley faces because it’s just plain easier, this post is for you.
Anyone who has lamented the non-existence of a sarcasm font, or left off a period in a tweet so they don’t sound self-important, or clenched their teeth as they added an extra exclamation point to an email so as not to come off as cold and unenthused has felt that inkling that today’s punctuation rules just don’t cut it in this tech-savvy world.
One of the reasons punctuation exists is to denote the subtle inflections of the spoken word, and while the spoken word itself has been reimagined in a number of ways in order to adapt to a text-based, yet highly conversational atmosphere of communication, punctuation has become so archaic that we’ve resorted to this !!!!!!! or this………………… or worse, foregoing punctuation altogether in order to communicate our apathy, or even worse than that, sending off a line of emojis, leaving friends to decipher our pictograms. We’ve become utterly Neanderthal in our communication.
You know what Shakespeare did when he was without the words to communicate his more complex thoughts? He made them up. He’s credited with inventing about 1,700 words, and everybody just jumped on the bandwagon, so I propose we create some punctuative slang to serve our unique purposes. A repunctuation, if you will.
Problem: Some people, no matter how well they know you, just can’t determine sarcasm once confined to the narrow walls of a text message. Nothing, however, takes the wind out of your comedic sails like having to tack a “jk” to the end of a tweet. C’mon. Nobody retweets a “jk.”
Solution: ~ The free-standing tilde. All the emphasis of bold or italicized text, but with just a little extra stank.
Problem: Periods can seem pretentious. They can give a finite, and therefore monolithic quality to something you’ve stated that you intended to be nothing but a passing observation, and what was meant to be quickly forgotten, feels misguidedly self-important. We need a symbol that sums up the phrase, “I’m not trying to be Deepak Chopra or anything, but…” It’s difficult to denote a passing disinterest in one’s own statement.
Solution: ¡ The inverted exclamation point. Obviously, we’ve turned excitement upside down as an indicator of disinterest, unimportance, and in some cases, self deprecation. Think of it as a symbolic shrug.
Problem: The exclamation point has become so overused that actual excitement is now expressed with a line of exclamation points, followed by five less-than-threes, and sixteen various squinting emojis. The exclamation point is rendered more and more meaningless with every misuse. We need something that communicates a tepid, yet appropriate amount of enthusiasm. You know, for like, when your girlfriend says she’s on her way to meet you, and she brought coffee.
Solution:·The floating period. It has a levity, literally, that the period does not, and I find it quite useful toward our “enthusiasm, if not excitement” dilemma.
Problem: While text is the vehicle of choice for most casual conversations these days, sometimes we utilize it because it’s quick, silent, and to the point. The problem is while you may be walking into a movie, you’re pal on the other side of the screen is passing her time waiting for the bus. Normally, you’d be glad to entertain her, but this exchange can be laborious via text and at some point, the banter needs to be cut, and some serious conversation flow needs to happen. How do you say, “Cool story. Cut to the chase,” without sounding like a heinous bitch?
Solution: ¥ The Yen symbol. As I’ve never needed it for it’s actual purpose, I have adapted it’s meaning to solve the “But, seriously,” problem. For no reason other than it looks like a pictorial representation of “I appreciate your meandering thought process, but get to the point.” Can be used within a sentence, or independently.
Problem: After a truly productive text conversation, all information has been transmitted, and you’ve set your phone down, ready to tackle the task at hand, only to be harkened back to your screen by one last blip. And what does it say? “K.” For some reason, there is nothing more infuriating.
Solution:¬ Logic’s symbol for negation. But for our purposes, it means, “Over and out,” or in other words, “Do not text ‘K,’ I am just going to assume you have received this information.”
(Admittedly, I can’t actually find this key on my phone, but it’s just so perfect that I set up a shortcut for it in my settings¡)
If you find any of these solutions helpful, please, employ them. Only in your casual conversations though. Remember, this is slang. If you use it in a college essay, you will get an F, unless of course this article makes me Shakespeare famous. Good Luck·