Donald Trump’s Use Of Exclamation Points Is A Terror Tactic

For Donald Trump, fear comes in 140 characters

Donald Trump loves the exclamation point—a lot. And he uses it on his Twitter feed—a lot. Trump, who boasts nearly 20 million Twitter followers—still deep in the shadow of Barack Obama and his 80 million followers—uses the exclamation point in so many ways.


He uses it to celebrate Army-Navy sports...

to laud high officials...

and to rally for a good meeting.

He also uses the exclamation point to engage in international affairs...

to debunk names...

\nto discredit public arts and media figures...

or just CNN, specifically.

The exclamation point has its origin in Latin as a proclamation of joy called “io,” and was originally written with the i on top of the o. It was not even on the American keyboard until 1970 because its use was rare. This punctuation mark was meant to be used sparsely—to signify an emergency or a sincere moment of pure joy and proclamation of happiness, a departure from the norm.

But we are in the era of excessive exaggeration and excessive use of the exclamation mark. According to linguist Dr. Michele Zappavigna’s concept of “upscaled graduation,” this type of punctuation aberration is commonly used in social media to increase emotion—both negative and positive—and to create solidarity.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]When used where there is no cause for actual alarm, the exclamation point becomes a tool of emotional manipulation.[/quote]

This literary shift does not come without consequence. Kees van den Bos, a professor in the Department of Social and Organizational Psychology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, reports on the phenomenon in his study on the psychological effects of the overuse of exclamation points. He writes, “presenting alarm-related stimuli, such as exclamation points and flashing lights to people should lead to more extreme judgments about subsequent justice-related events than not presenting these alarming stimuli.”

The concern is not the base use of the exclamation point to yield its intended results, but, instead, the way in which basic judgment—and specifically justice-related judgment—is affected by an overuse of this literary tool. In simple terms, the exclamation point signals panic, alarm, fear, worry, and an overall vigilance in its readers when functioning as a directive in genuine nonemergency situations. In a Trump tweet example, “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!” When an agent of the government excessively employs this literary tool in nonextreme scenarios, it becomes dangerous.

According to an MRI study performed by van den Bos, exclamation points activate the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that becomes stimulated when people are processing information that is emotional and, perhaps, alarming. When used where there is no cause for actual alarm, the exclamation point becomes a tool of emotional manipulation.

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]The concern rests in how something as simple as punctuation on Twitter can be used swiftly to shift the consciousness of half of America’s voters.[/quote]

When a world leader tweets things like, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag, if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” or even something so simple as “Rupert Murdoch is a great guy who likes me much better as a very successful candidate than he ever did as a very successful developer!” people start to scratch their heads. And when these things are said in the same tone as “Dishonest media says Mexico won't be paying for the wall if they pay a little later so the wall can be built more quickly. Media is fake!” or “Iran is going to buy 114 jetliners with a small part of the $150 billion we are giving them...but they won't buy from U.S., rather Airbus!”—we the people grow confused, mixed up, and curious about whether to celebrate or to cower in fear. How does one know when an emergency is an emergency if and when everything spoken by your commander in chief warrants heightened emotion?

Like a man with an enormous belly might lean back in his armchair, rub that tum, and proclaim to the chef, “Delicious!”—so, too, does our new leader lean back into his throne and (akin to “off with their heads!”) shouts his preferences to the people. The concern rests in how something as simple as punctuation on Twitter can be used swiftly to shift the consciousness of half of America’s voters or to sway opinions, actions, and justice-related judgments in the years to come.

Articles

We've all felt lonely at some point in our lives. It's a human experience as universal as happiness, sadness or even hunger. But there's been a growing trend of studies and other evidence suggesting that Americans, and people in general, are feeling more lonely than ever.

It's easy to blame technology and the way our increasingly online lives have further isolated us from "real" human interactions. The Internet once held seemingly limitless promise for bringing us together but seems to be doing just the opposite.

Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

The delivery man was sent to a woman's house to deliver a pie when her ex-boyfriend, Dean Hoffman, opened the door. Grundl looked over his shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman with a black eye standing behind Hoffman. She appeared to be mouthing the words: "Call the police."

"I gave him his pizza and then I noticed behind him was his girlfriend," Grundl told WITI Milwaukee. "She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words, 'Call the police.'"

Keep Reading Show less
Good News


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Facebook: kktv11news

A post on the Murdered by Words subreddit is going viral for the perfect way a poster shut down a knee-jerk "double-standard!" claim.

It began when a Redditor posted a 2015 Buzzfeed article story about a single dad who took cosmetology lessons to learn how to do his daughter's hair.

Most people would see the story as something positive. A dad goes out of his way to learn a skill that makes his daughter look fabulous.

Keep Reading Show less
Lifestyle