It’s time we had a talk about the way you’re recklessly using me, the Exclamation Mark, in your work emails.

You’ve been at the same gig for nearly five years and I was kind of okay with the way you originally worked me into your communications. At the start, you really were going to “get right on it!” Hell, I proudly marched out there and stood beside your congratulations for the couple in HR that got engaged because you kind of, just sort of, meant it. And dammit, that’s how bad things have gotten that I’m yearning for the days when there was even a pinch of sincerity in the way you used me.

You don’t even think twice before you throw my ass out on the frontlines now. I’m a pawn. Cannon fodder. Butt naked and armed with a squirt gun that’s filled to the brim with insultingly transparent enthusiasm. Oh, really? You’re that fired up about Gabe’s oatmeal raisin cookies in the break room? You’re not fooling anybody that you “dream about those bad boys!” The same “bad boys!” you’ve described in private as “having the texture and taste of a Halloween mask of a witch.”

No. Forget that. You’ve used me to death and stripped away any potential credibility that I once had. Every time you tell one of your team members that they’re a “rockstar!” just remember that I’m the Oscar-caliber actor that has to go out there with the cameras rolling and read that sci-fi script you wrote on a bender sophomore year of college with absolute sincerity. It’s garbage, man.

I remember way back when you first started to use me. You were timid. Scared, even. And motherfucker, you should have been. I’m the Exclamation Mark. I’m an Ifrit you need to think twice about before calling up from the depths of hell to give your words some balls. If I had it my way, pressing “shift + 1” would be like launching a missile during the Cold War. You’re going to have to get approval from the President and call in a buddy to turn two keys at the same time before slapping me into an email.

I’m not saying you can’t ever use me. I’m just saying you need to let me get some of my luster back. My services are to congratulate Laura in IT for beating cancer, not to breathlessly announce to your team that Slack is back online. Show some fucking restraint. You’re starting to look like a damn lunatic out there. Celebrating fresh toner for the printer shouldn’t read the same as telling your friends that you magically woke up with the ability to 360-dunk basketballs from half court.

You know I’m not Period. That insufferable Golden Retriever of the punctuation world. Begging for his little taps, mindlessly wagging and waiting to do your bidding at all costs. I’m the damn Exclamation Mark. I’m to be accompanied by reason and deployed with thought. You should have to stand naked atop the highest mountain and blow into a prehistoric seashell to call me in and scream at the office’s serial toilet seat pisser, not to be thrown out with zero consideration to express your “excitement” over the delivery of fresh coffee pods to the kitchen.

I used to stand at attention. Tall. Proud. Erect. An absolutely screaming, glowing monolith to your emotions that couldn’t wait to run behind your words. Now I lurch out and put an arm up against some sentence about signups for intramural kickball, light a cigarette, and blink Morse code at the recipient to save me from your never-ending punctuation abuse.

Don’t believe me? Just ask my neighbors. @ is used almost exclusively for their very functional job and ~? Well, to be honest, absolutely none of us have any fucking clue what ~ even does all day. Regardless, neither of them can believe how often your middle finger (that makes sense) comes hovering over our cluster only to slam down on my ass once more.

I don’t even want to get into your casual use of multiple of me in a row lately. You’d really lose your voice shouting excitedly about the company’s new carpets if you had to say that sentence out loud? Doubtful. Do you know what events call for a string of exclamation marks in a work email? An all-company notice that an active volcano just opened up down the street, it’s spouting a stream of firing bazookas, and it’s heading the company’s way. That’s the only situation I can see worthy of throwing a line of me out there at once. That’s. It.

I can feel the space between my rod and my dot disappearing. My magic sauce. What makes me stand out and rise above the rest to be the indistinguishable choice for yelling at a motherfucker, celebrating a motherfucker, or just plain letting your own motherfucker out.

At this rate, I’ll be nothing but a line before you know it, and it’s all because you’ve adapted the email voice of a goddamn dolphin caught in a fishing net.