Words, Exclamation Points and Laughing Out Loud

You’ll forgive my rancor, but I got problems.

I got problems with the way American English is being abused, brutalized and otherwise mistreated. I don’t say the “English language” because American English is a whole different animal than proper English. I’m talking about the Americanized bastardization which many people think is their birthright and the errant, willy-nilly, “I talk/write like how I talk/write and that’s just how I talk/write so get used to it” manner in which people treat the language with an utter lack of respect.

No. I won’t get used to it. Because you are mincing and shredding an otherwise beautiful classical language and I feel it is my responsibility to tell you so. This is not meant to criticize. It is not meant to make me appear lofty or learned. Consider it a public service announcement that if you are doing any of these things or anything like these things, you’re doing it wrong (See, I’m not adverse to the proper insertion of an Internet phrase if used correctly).

First, an old roommate of mine once used the word “Snidbit.” I responded by saying “’Snidbit’ is not a word. ‘Tidbit’ is a word. ‘Snippet’ is a word. ‘Snidbit’ is not a word.”

He replied, “Well, I say ‘snidbit’.”

Okay, not only are you using the wrong word, but you have enough self-importance to think that the rules of English somehow don’t apply to you and you can make up words as you see fit. You can’t, and doing so makes you seem ignorant. It’s a similar experience when I use a term or phrase and then I hear the person I said it to reuse it the next dear but do so incorrectly. For instance, I once used the phrase “rhyme or reason” and the next day, heard the woman I said that to use the same phrase, only she said “reason or rhyme.” Stop it. Stopitstopitstopit. If you don’t know how to use the word or phrase, do not use it. You will sound foolish.

Again, I’m not criticizing. I just feel the need to repeat that because I just tire of otherwise bright people sounding like children. And speaking of sounding like children, let’s switch gears to the overuse of the (!).

I’ve developed a reputation in a couple of Facebook groups I am in of abhorring the overuse of the (!). It’s gotten to the point where people use it to just to get my goat and really, it’s kind of endearing at this point. However, it doesn’t make it any less annoying. Take a moment, right now, and look at your keyboard. Do it. You see all those things above the numbers (if you are reading this on a smartphone, hit that “button” on the bottom left of the keypad.) By my count, there’s over 25 different punctuation marks you could be using, and they all mean something different. They are just as important in the writing of English as words and I love them. And yet it seems that people have fixated on using the one above the”1” and flood their writing with it. This is unnecessary, not to mention troubling as it makes your writing look like it was penned by a manic lunatic. And again, I believe this point is addressed at the online dating site. You can opt to send a V.I.P. email, in which case a small advice box will pop up next to your message and provide you with 5 Tips on sending a message to a prospective date. Know what one of the tips is? Don’t overuse (!) because you will sound like a manic lunatic.

Speaking of sounding like a manic lunatic, let’s talk about “LOL”. For the third time, I am not saying this to sound uppity. I am saying this because I am a purist and love writing and understand its power. So when you abuse the written word, I weep for lost opportunity. Using “LOL” all the time makes it impossible for me to take you seriously, not to mention nourishes a very unhealthy superiority complex on my part. You are not laughing out loud. You are not laughing out loud. You are not laughing out loud. And once again, this segues into how this use of “laughing out loud” translates into online dating. If you took all the profiles I read at face value, given the frequency and importance the women on this site give to laughter, taken collectively, they give the impression of a crowd of cackling hyenas in desperate need of freakin’ sedative. In their younger years, this would be the gaggle of women at the bar laughing at the most mundane and unamusing minutiae you can think of. Otherwise known as a bachelorette party. Also, even if used correctly, the overuse of “LOL” shrieks testimony about how important we think we are that if we laughed at something, we absolutely have to inform the person we found what they just said funny. I mean good God, if someone writes something that they feel is funny but is not but they use “LOL” anyway, the least the reader can do is just let them continue to believe that they are funny but not comment on it. And if you write something that you think is funny, but is not, and yet include “LOL”, you come off like a bully who is commanding the reader to laugh at something even if it is decidedly not worth even a chuckle. And again, given the rampant use of the “I love to laugh” phrase in online dating, you would get the impression that these are women who literally laugh all the time with the frequency implicitly suggested by Larry the Cable Guy and Adam Sandler movies.

Let me interject here, one more time, that I feel like I owe it to the reader to inform them of these things so as to create a more sound and thoughtful public. Hell, I can get down and write on the nasty with the best of them and I don’t think less of the writer, I just think less of the writing. For one one final time, I say none of this to nurture some feeling of “I’m right and you’re wrong,” though it could easily be construed that way. I merely am pointing out that what you say matters as much if not more than what you do. Take care to mean what you say, say what you mean, and say it correctly.

4 thoughts on “Words, Exclamation Points and Laughing Out Loud

  1. Couldn’t agree more Andy! (Kidding). Exclamation points, overuse of “literally” and misused phrases drive me up a wall. And don’t get me started on “irregardless.”

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  2. LOL This is the best thing I have read all day!!! And, FYI, I did LOL!!
    Ahem, seriously, it is. I could not agree more, but actually, one might posit that, (comma) in a piece of expository writing such as this, (comma) these matters greatly, um, matter……no,no I need a different word as it is unschooled to use the same word so soon in that way… In any case, I am relatively new to reading here, and certainly intend to read you often. But my point is, in media such as e-mail, these things that you (and I!)-(oops) so deplore, these things do help to inflect the meaning of on-line messages in a way that would otherwise be very difficult. I am not making this up. Seriously, a really good piece. My comment ends here with a full stop.

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