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This is So Inappropriate!

kicking buttons

Recently I remarked on Facebook how I’ve been using a lot of exclamation marks recently! I’m not sure why, I used to hate them, but in emails and tweets and other short correspondence they do add a touch of enthusiasm that would otherwise be missing!

But as you can see, they are also heavy-handed and become obnoxious quickly! After only three sentences, I’m sure some people have already decided not to continue reading today’s post! Their loss! Regular readers will suspect I’m getting to a point here, but how long can they tolerate the extremely inappropriate — yet very tiny — extra vertical line I am appending to these otherwise peaceful sentences?!

With such casual, terrible ease I’ve made today’s post rude and strangely upsetting!

The point here is that tiny changes to our words and actions do make a profound difference, and we often forget that! A little change in tone, facial expression, word choice, penmanship, or punctuation (!) can vastly alter how your offerings to the world are received! The inclusion (or exclusion) of a simple raised eyebrow, half-smile, or ten-dollar word will send your listeners, readers, or acquaintances to a completely different place mentally, and the results can be that much more different! The domino effect from just one unusually brave choice  (or unusually disciplined, or unusually selfless, or unusually selfish — or just unusual) can send your life on an utterly different course! Friendships could be won and lost, or created from nothing! New chapters of your life could be opened, or old ones closed!

And what change could be subtler than the casual addition of an inert, six-pixel stroke to the end of my sentences today?! It should be easy to ignore, but I find it extremely distracting! Not to mention oddly misleading!

I won’t go on explaining this further, because surely you already get the tiny (but possibly huge) point I’m making! I also feel an unusual headache coming on!

Maybe as you head out into your world today, this awful post will help you remember the horrendous power — and incredible potential — that you wield in every single moment, in the form of little changes to what you say and do, whether you like it or not. When you truly appreciate the resounding impact of even your smallest choices, you will understand that feelings of powerlessness can only ever be delusion.

Your choices always carry tremendous weight, even when you feel like you have no choice in the matter. We don’t need enormous reserves of skill or advantage to make big differences to what happens to us — and to the manner in which we “happen” to the world.

Have an unusually effective Monday!

R !

Photo by Munmay

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Tim March 1, 2010 at 1:23 am

The last moment I had, a mere two to three minutes ago, was full of frustration and profanity. But it’s late at night, I’m tired, and I don’t have the energy to throw a fit. At least not a big one. I’ve chosen the lesser of two evils and am letting my tiredness dampen my enraged, upset spirit.

I’m rolling with the punches and trying my best to just do what I can with myself.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<—My frustration in the form of grammatical error. Can't you FEEL the anger?
.-= Tim´s last blog ..Take Your Losses =-.

David March 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Whoa Tim you’re outta control!

.-= David´s last blog ..This is So Inappropriate! =-.

ummtiflain March 1, 2010 at 4:54 am

“A little change in tone, facial expression, word choice, penmanship, or punctuation (!) can vastly alter how your offerings to the world are received!”

This is very true. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve offended others by the unintentional urgency, edginess or carelessness of my tone of voice, facial expressions, etc.

And I’m not sure if I agree with this one here: “feelings of powerlessness can only ever be delusion.”

I have been in a difficult personal situation for years. My inability to change things in the situation weakens me daily. Accepting this is hard to comprehend and even worse to defend. *My* powerlessness in this is real, not deluded; it is suffocating and exhausting. It harms my loved ones and hinders their respect for me. So yes, I do need “enormous reserves of skill or advantage to make big differences to what happens to us-”

I would love it if you could touch on these aspects in the future if you haven’t already in previous posts: how to accept what you cannot change whether it be an illness, death, divorce, loss of faith or loss of dreams. how to force yourself to change when it is so painfully obvious changing yourself is not always enough. how to live and not merely exist.

peace to you.

David March 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Hi ummtiflain. Obviously I’m referring to powerlessness in the absolute sense, as in the feeling that nothing you do can bring you to a better place or a stronger position. No, we can’t change everything we want to change, of course not. If you are consumed with a particular aspect of life being different than it really is, that’s a different issue altogether. Nobody is completely powerless except by choice. Ask Viktor Frankl.

Catherine Vibert March 1, 2010 at 5:48 am

This is very true! Thank you for this! :-) <3

David March 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Thanks Catherine :)

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) March 1, 2010 at 6:12 am

sssssooooo funny~ you sound Australian when you write like that~ cause we raise our voice! at the end of a sentence! like always!

I’m very familiar with those lil social nuances, that, when missing can really shake others up. Their choice me figures. This attitude is often judged as being deluded ~:-)

Left a lovely trail of choas at the post office today, my sister finds this very funny.

Like the pic, quite a power lift~

David March 1, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Now that I think of it, you’re right! Like always!

I’m heading to the post office later, maybe I’ll bring some chaos with me.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) March 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm

hahahaha~ thank you for accepting my omnipotence ~:-)))

stir em up brother!

David March 1, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Whoops I forgot to cause chaos in the Post Office. I was polite and agreeable.

Alyssa March 1, 2010 at 10:38 am

I’ve been using exclamation points like crazy! I was actually just texting someone last night and I realized that all three of my sentences had them, but I couldn’t bring myself to change it because they were just too fitting. Reading it from someone else makes me realize how it looks!

Very good point though!

David March 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Haha… sometimes I just can’t *quite* say what I’m trying to say without an exclamation mark.

Brad March 1, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Facial expressions and general comportment are mostly reflections of attitude, and attitude, despite popular pronouncements, is not a “little” thing. I say ignore the picayune details and focus on the big picture.
.-= Brad´s last blog ..Spurned Science =-.

David March 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I say all things are little things. Everything in life is composed of nothing but constituent details. We can group them in our minds as we please, but the “big picture” is ever only a thought — a detail of the moment.

Lori (Jane Be Nimble) March 1, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Hi David!

I’m a logophile and absolutely LOVED this post!

(Ha ha ha — your demonstration of the overused exclamation point forced me to make my self a cup of chamomile tea — just to calm my nerves).

Excellent points, David. I notice that (I think) I use a lot of exclamation points in my email correspondence. And, wow, I had not idea of my potential annoyance. Thanks for taking the time to write this post, David.

I hope all is well in your world. :)
.-= Lori (Jane Be Nimble)´s last blog ..I Love Your Mind =-.

David March 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Haha sorry my exclamation points drove you to sedatives, Lori. ;)

They can be quite, uh, grating.

All is well, yes.


Patty - Why Not Start Now? March 1, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Hi David! Funny! I have a colleague who writes like this, with all good intentions! But it’s hard to take! I don’t think she understands the horrendous power she possesses! Perhaps I’ll tap into some of my own incredible potential and tell her!
.-= Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s last blog ..Meaning Mondays: The Big Rabbit Edition =-.

David March 1, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Hi Patty!

Yes, tell her of her horrendous powers!

Erin March 1, 2010 at 5:43 pm

We all have something. Some people write in all caps, some use no capitalization. Many write run on sentences. Run on sentences are probably my pet peeve. I believe one should take . , ! ? . and use them liberally. No one is perfect, perfection lies in a different realm. Excellence resides in our realm and you seem to be in continual pursuit of excellence. Thanks David
.-= Erin´s last blog ..The Holy One =-.

David March 1, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Thanks Erin. I’m no fan of run-on sentences either, but sometimes they end up that way. I often even find myself using the cat-and-dog kind. :)

I don’t like semicolons either, but I still use them a lot for some reason.

I’ll always remember a comment my English teacher left on one of my papers. She said “Your points are good but they are sometimes lost because of the way in which they are worded.” It was right on the money, and still is sometimes.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) March 1, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Gee David~ it is never meant to be an intentional stir ~:-)
.-= Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor)´s last blog ..Students~ Thought for The Day =-.

Brenda (betaphi) March 4, 2010 at 11:14 pm

David, David, you’re doing it wrong. It’s supposed to be !?, not ?! ;)
.-= Brenda (betaphi)´s last blog ..Global Thinkers =-.

David March 4, 2010 at 11:21 pm

You sure about that?

I always figured !? didn’t look “questiony” enough.

Brenda (betaphi) March 5, 2010 at 12:23 am

No, I think !? is questionary enough. It’s certainly not inappropriate. Your music post is a killer. It’s like going to a party at your house. Missionary man does it for me. Wow. What a song, what a post.
.-= Brenda (betaphi)´s last blog ..Global Thinkers =-.

Nea | Self Improvement Saga March 5, 2010 at 10:39 pm

I found it shocking that the semi-colons were annoying the sh*t out of me. And the more you described them as the harmless pixels that they are, the more confused I became at my reaction. I’m always the first one to discourage overreaction, so now I need to go check myself. Or maybe I’ll just create a whole document full of annoying characters (!@*$^%&@!!!!($&$(#&)and teach myself to relax & enjoy them. Ok… I’m taking this too far. LOL. I need a nap.
.-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..How to Be Selfish…In a Good Way =-.

David March 6, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Yeah I don’t like semi-colons either, but sometimes I can’t find another way of saying it. A period is too much, a comma isn’t quite right. What to do?

LeeShand March 6, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Aha! :-)

David March 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm



Mathieu D March 11, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Wow I love this. Big realizations are sometimes in the little details, and this is an awesomely tiny detail! (!)

This post was a way to teach such lesson in a way I’d have never thought of. Thumbs up for thinking outside the box :)

Keep up the good work!

.-= Mathieu D´s last blog ..4 Tips for Iron-Hard Relentlessness =-.

David March 12, 2010 at 12:14 am

Will do!
.-= David´s last blog ..A Thought From My Hero =-.

Jojira April 2, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I believe the annoyance felt from continuous use of the exclamation mark is due to the high amount of energy associated with any sentence spoken verbally that requires an exclamation mark on paper.

The non-intrusive nature of the period is comparatively calming.

There is also a highly boring historic reason:

Originally, no language used punctuation. It is interesting for me, at least, to note that most pause-associated punctuation (periods, commas, colons, and cetera) originated from plays or oral performances. Therefore, those marks provide order and are popularly accepted.

The Bible was the text that propelled this form of punctuation into the masses for Romance Languages. It needed to be read out loud, and an Eats, Shoots, and Leaves situation with the Bible would be dire indeed.

Because of the serious nature of the Bible, exclamation points were not used and are today not as popular, in any language expect that of teenage texting. The double-negative connotation of teens and unpopularity explain how annoying it can be.

This is worse though: linguists in the University of Michigan wish to introduce punctuation to express sarcasm. A circle with a dot in the middle, apparently. We can only pray it will not enter the Bible.

David April 2, 2010 at 7:25 pm

A “sarcastic” mark… yikes. What a perfectly awful idea.

The English language is quite adequate already, I think. If they need a thesis project maybe they could finally give us the singular gender-neutral pronoun we’ve always needed.

Miss Bec December 15, 2010 at 6:46 pm

It’s the little things that ARE the big things.

Sly glances are noticed.

Tiny acts of kindness are noticed.

Make sure what you’re doing is for the positive, because it will get noticed.

Great post blog David, again.


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