The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant must insist we declare a moratorium on exclamation points.1 In the early years of our country, exclamation points started in the grammar mines of West Virginia. Then they made their way to the punctuation mills of Pennsylvania where hardy men forged them into shape. The Transcendentalists like Thoreau and Emerson acquired hand-crafted points from Shaker communities with the understanding they would never be used to proclaim violence.
When the Civil War ended, double shifts worked the mines to proclaim the news of Victory! People understood the scarcity back then and proceeded accordingly. But like most manufacturing, the process has moved overseas where poor children in Bangladesh recycle question marks made of cheap, synthetic punctuation and pound them straight for a penny a point. Heartbreaking. The children dream of being promoted to semi-colons, where all you have to do is smack together a period and comma with Crazy Glue. Since no one understands the use of a semi-colon anyway, the demand remains low.
Look, there’s no reason to get so excited about saying Hello!!!!!!!. You aren’t announcing the discovery of a new element;2 think about those poor kids and their back-breaking labor. The Rant hates to even consider the possibility, but perhaps the Schoolhouse Rock song “Interjections” started us down this slippery slope. And additional points don’t convey extra excitement. You’re just lining the pockets of Big Punctuation.
The Rant assumes you’re smugly getting ready to insist that you should be held blameless because of your switch to emoticons. But what you don’t know is all those smiley, frowny, and teary faces are actual photographs. The indigenous mountain people of Bhutan are known as the Emota and their perfectly round faces are photographed by web developers without permission. The Emota believe that a photo transmits a portion of their soul into the body of a Taylor Swift fan. You might as well give them smallpox-riddled blankets, which is more traditionally American anyway.
So let’s use some discretion out there. Communicate instead of just shouting. Stop exploiting the Emota to endorse your latest selfie. We can do better.