Issues & Insights

This American Addiction Is All Trump’s Fault!!!!

As most people know by now, pretty much everything that has or will go wrong in America these days is President Trump’s fault. There’s simply no way around it. The media is full of it.

The price of gas. That new football league’s early collapse. Political turmoil. His failure to collude with Russia. The overuse of exclamation points.

What? Wait!

Of course, Americans’ addiction to exclamation points is not really Trump’s fault, though he has revolutionized the use of instant political communications with very frequent missives to his 60 million Twitter followers.

He is, however, executive producer of the current White House reality show. So, Trump’s become the nation’s most prominent exclamation-point addict.

“The Collusion Delusion is OVER!” he tweeted the other day.

“Leaving now for Green Bay, Wisconsin – BIG CROWD, will be there shortly!”

Then, later, an effusive double exclam: “Thank you Green Bay, Wisconsin! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!”

A journalist — who clearly has more time on his hands than most of us — reports that during one recent year, Trump used exclamation marks in more than 2,200 tweets. That’s a lot! Amirite?

The vertical line with a dot beneath has had slow times and busy times since it emerged in 14th century English as a “point of admiration.” “She’s lovely!”

Elaine gets a lesson in exclamation abuse on Seinfeld

Over the centuries it also came to be a “point of wonder.” “Look at that!” Today, it can also be a sneer. “Yeh, right!”

The 21st Century exclamation point has basically become the grammar selfie, a punctuation mark and affectation whose useful purpose too often gets suffocated into meaninglessness through its own over-abundance.

A main reason is obvious. Once, most communications occurred in-person face-to-face. Speakers had facial expressions, hands and tone of voice to enhance their message. Even on the telephone, people had a voice to read.

But those signals are gone on the flat screens in a connected world with billions upon billions of texts and emails flying around in and out of everyone’s life these days. Ever had anyone misunderstand your unclear electronic message? See!

Take this text exchange, for example: “Hi, I was wondering if maybe you’d like to go out with me Friday night?” Answer: “Yes.”

Or this reply with a simple addition: “Yes!!”

These nuances are also why modern online societies had to invent emojis, to electronically communicate laughter, sarcasm, doubt, anger, even love. <3

It is true, studies have shown, that females tend to be more generous in their use of exclamation points (if you’re reading this in the U.S.) or exclamation marks (if you’re in Britain).

This is not because allegedly women are more emotional. It’s because in their conversations they are by nature more emotive. Next lunchtime restaurant visit watch the animation and invisible exclamation marks in a typical conversation among women.

Then, check a table of reserved males conversing, no one wanting to reveal their hand just in case — unless they’re talking about last night’s game and that absolutely amazing play!

Exclamation marks can also be crucial in work and career advancement. Whatever they might be intended to convey, too many !!!!! in reports or emails give off the distinct odor of amateur shallowness.

Please be clear though. We’re not saying exclamation marks or too many of them will have anything to do with next year’s election results. There are way too many other factors !! .

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Andrew Malcolm

@AHMalcolm Veteran national & foreign correspondent, nonfiction author, blogger, National Politics Columnist for McClatchy at

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