On text and instant message, punctuation marks have largely been replaced by the line break. I am much more likely to type two separate messages without punctuation:
sorry about last night next time we can order little caesars
Than I am to send a single punctuated message:
I’m sorry about last night. Next time we can order Little Caesars.
And, because it seems begrudging, I would never type:
sorry about last night. next time we can order little caesars.
I talked about this in a post last year (Do you end a text with a period?), concluding that I use periods to varying degrees in text messages, sometimes for snark and especially when a textversation is longer (multiple sentences) or more formal. The comments/notes on that post, about other people’s text punctuation are also interesting. I wonder if anything has changed since then: feel free to check your own texts and report back!
I also liked the discussion of exclamation marks as a sincerity marker:
Nearly everyone has struggled to figure out whether or not a received message is sarcastic. So people began using exclamation points almost as sincerity markers: “I really mean the sentence I just concluded!” (This is especially true of exclamation points used in sequence: “Are you being sarcastic?” “No!!!!!”)
Especially in medium-formal emails, I often use exclamation marks to indicate cheerfulness or lightheartedness (compare “Looking forward to meeting you!” with “Looking forward to meeting you.”). Since emoticons aren’t quite acceptable in a more formal context, I end up using exclamation marks as a substitute when I want to make sure that I’m coming off as friendly.
A related phenomenon, I think, is the use of capitals and/or punctuation to indicate sarcasm. For example, notice the contrast between these two imagined texts:
don’t be late we’ve got some very important people coming
don’t be late we’ve got some Very Important People coming
In the second one, capitalizing Very Important People when it doesn’t need to be capitalized makes the sender seem sarcastic or at least as if they’re speaking with a raised eyebrow.
However, sometimes periods are also used for emphasis, and in combination with capitalization perhaps they cancel each other out and become sincere again. For example, I recently found myself saying the following, which is clearly sincere.
Best. Response. Ever.
On the other hand, I’ve noticed that text messages have gotten more likely to include apostrophes and capitals for things like proper names because our phones automatically fill them in, and it would be way too much effort to take them out. (This being said, I’ve trained my phone to use lowercase “internet” and non-hyphenated “email” because using the default versions made me feel like an old fogey.)