Deborah Alexander writes: I was just wondering…is there a limit to how many exclamation marks you can use in an email or text? My personal limit is two…OK, three if I’m really excited…but for some people, the sky’s the limit. I’ve received messages that have contained more exclamation marks than text. No, seriously, I have. But someone…namely Joanne McNeil…has worked out that more exclamation marks equals more enthusiasm.
It’s clear that for someone who writes, teaches and interviews people on the radio that communication is key, so I was bound to be interested in Joanne’s new project. Having taken a closer look, maybe ‘project’ is over-egging it slightly. Joanne has developed a downloadable app that will automatically make your emails more enthusiastic. I was interested, not so much because I lack enthusiasm…if you’ve listened to myself, Gwen and Liz chatting on Girls Do Coffee you’ll know that enthusiasm isn’t lacking in any way! Dave might sometimes say that there’s an overflow of enthusiasm! Let the guests get a word in! Anyway, where was I? So, I was interested to see how Ms McNeil proposed to inject enthusiasm into the mails of the unenthusiastic and it turned out that this could be achieved by adding exclamation marks. That and interjecting the word ‘lovely’ here and there. I’m quite a fan of the word ‘lovely’ myself but I can freely admit that if I received a mail packed full of lovelies and !!!!!!!, my radar would register that as weird rather than enthusiastic and would be shouting ‘Crazy alert! Delete! Delete!’
So I’m unlikely to be downloading the app anytime soon, but it did make me wonder who would want to? The de-motivated? Uncreative? Tired? Or just plain lazy? Let’s face it, in a period when we have a plethora of various means of communication at our fingertips….text, mail, phone, Facebook, Twitter…there’s not really any excuse for a lack of communication but, if you’re anything like me, you may well have experienced tearing your hair out and yelling ‘Why don’t they ever answer their phone?! When I know they spend all day glued to their phone! Or reply to emails?! When I know they spend all day facing a screen!’ (OK, I know I allowed myself a couple of exclamation marks there, combined with question marks, but I think that, in the name of expressive writing, I should be allowed some creative freedom.)
‘Too much effort’ seems to be the by-word these days, and you’re lucky if you receive as much as a thumbs-up emoticon in response to a message. (If it’s an aubergine you’re receiving then you’ve either got a stalker or you’re on a promise) In fact, I’m thinking of patenting an invention or two of my own. One could be a device that combines a sensor, to pick up on the presence of people you know, and the other part would fit along your arm, thus lifting the arm in friendly salute (or otherwise, according to personalised settings) when people come into view, with no effort at all on your part.
The second device could also include a sensor, combined with a recorded message (either yourself or you could choose from a selection of celebrity voices) which would automatically play when friends hove into view, without you ever having to take your eyes off your phone!
Just to assure you that when you tune in to Girls Do Coffee, that’s no recording that you’re listening to…it’s live, unbridled enthusiasm, often let loose on totally unsuspecting guests. Why not listen in sometime? And if you’ve something (polite) to say about this column, you can respond at @ReflectiveDeb on Twitter or send a mail to email@example.com. Best replies will be re-tweeted, broadcast or turned into a best-selling book if it’s more creative than my own work. Lovely! See you soon!!!
Deborah Alexander – www.reflective-writing-group.org