When it comes to punctuation the first thing that crosses my mind is Ron Burgundy.
The actual definition of punctuation is boring and gives me Ron Burgundy's exact face as I read it: "The use of spacing, conventional signs, and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and the correct reading, both silently and aloud, of handwritten and printed texts."
Punctuation is something that you rarely think about until it slams you in the face by someone ELSE's writing. Punctuation is the undercurrent of writing. It speaks volumes. It is the only way to convey your personality. It tells the reader how you speak, or, what voice you are using to tell the story.
An angry mother won't sound the same as an angry C.E.O. and the only way to make that clear is through punctuation. Even if the mother and C.E.O. are the same person, mom isn't going to yell at her kid the same way as her employee.
For another work example, the amount of exclamation points used in formal writing is directly proportional to how happy an office is. It doesn't matter if it's over the top. Happy breeds happy. Exclamation points = Happy.
Want some passive aggressive people? Only use periods. You will STIR the pot! No one knows how to take a flat period, so they will insert how they think you feel about it. You know a recipe for disaster? When people start to read into what you say and find additional meanings:
Why aren't they more excited to talk to me? Did I offend them? What were my last five texts? Did I sound annoyed? Why wouldn't they use an exclamation point about meeting me for lunch? Maybe they don't even want to go. Maybe they are just doing this as a favor so they can ignore me for another month.... Maybe they actually hate me.
Well, if they were to hear your spiral of self consciousness, they probably would hate you.
But what about other forms of punctuation?
Everyone knows someone who writes in all caps. I don't understand why they do it, but I assume it's because they don't know how to capitalize, so they decided to blanket capitalize so no one can say they're wrong.
WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS SCREAMING?!
This is my last Anchorman gif, I swear.
Another version of ALL CAPS FOREVER is the Caps For The First Letter Of Every Word. This One Baffles Me. I Can't Even Begin To Imagine The Purpose Of This Or How It's Supposed To Make Me Feel.
What I do know? My ring finger now hurts from repeatedly pressing the shift key.
Now as for those who are familiar with MY writing, I am wonderful at overusing ellipses and dashes. Which can make me sound like... I can't make up... my mind.... on what to say next... and also... leaves all other forms of punctuation obsolete.
Just use ellipses and you never need learn grammar!
My English teachers would be so proud.
I try not over use these two in my writing, (ever since I was made very aware of it by a good friend), but sometimes the characters are interrupting each other! My characters can be very rude and refuse to let one another finish a sentence or even -- cut them off completely without listening!
But I digress, arguing a personal point about grammar is about as useful as convincing a teenage girl that she won't marry her high school sweetheart (or a vampire, for that matter).
However, grammar and communication are changing constantly as a whole.
One thing that is changing the grammar landscape quickly is texting. Grammar is basically unnecessary in text form. As this article states, just placing A PERIOD at the end of a texted sentence, makes you seem insincere. The only thing that helps? Well of course, exclamation points and emoticons, or no punctuation at all. That's right, having no punctuation was better received than ending a text with a period. Therefore, emoticons (or emojis) truly are a gift to the texting generation. Otherwise we all sound like... Kristen Stewart looks....
"Thrilled to be here, Jeff."
This doesn't even begin to delve into the horror that is a "K" response to a text.
We are in the age of a technological revolution. This is a revolution in grammar. The only way to keep the tone and personality of our speedy less-than-a-sentence-interactions is to use emoticons to clarify our emotional responses. The speed at which we send and receive information is so obscene that we need little smiley faces to clarify what on EARTH we are talking about and decipher how we feel about it.
But don't worry, the tech revolution won't kill grammar. Just like the e-book didn't kill the paperback.
It reformed it.
Punctuation will always be relevant because we aren't going to get rid of books or newspapers. No matter how many times old timey neighbor Herbert shakes his cane at you to get off his lawn, and complains loudly that kids these days don't read books and in the future everyone will be on the interwebs and speaking with only consonants - He's wrong.
What we need to recognize is how the emoticon and overuse of punctuation in texting can benefit our interpersonal communication. The emoticon is a gift to the tech generation.
Use the emoticon wisely, and when you need grammar remember:
Truer words have never been spoken.