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You Can't Just Text 'OK'

Nick Douglas urges you to at least use an exclamation mark
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2019 1:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Think "OK" and "Yes" are good responses in a text? If so, please use an exclamation point to sound more positive—at least according to freelance writer Nick Douglas. "Otherwise you might sound passive aggressive, dismissive, or angry," he writes at Lifehacker. "There's a good reason for this." Drawing on the work of linguist Gretchen McCulloch, Douglas says you make "an extra effort" to be polite in daily life, asking people for things instead of bossing them around. "Online, you do the same, with different tactics," he writes. Said tactics include the exclamation mark as well as more casual forms of speech like "yep," "sure," and "sure thing." But even there, Douglas says, it's best to exercise caution.

"Not too far, or the sincerity starts sounding like sarcasm," he says, advising people to "pay attention to the ways you say yes in person, and try to imitate those in your messages." Still not convinced? Imagine saying "yes" in an empty tone with no facial expression, and you get how it reads in a text, where nothing else indicates emotion (perhaps oddly, Douglas doesn't mention emoji). He admits that these rules change by time and culture, and some people overdo exclamation marks, but be careful if you're the only one in a group who doesn't use them. "If you're the most formal one in the group, then believe me: everyone thinks you hate them." (Even Alexa is getting more emotional these days.)

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