What the interrobang?!?!

Welcome to the golden age of outrage. If you’re finishing a 3-year social media cleanse, I’ve got some bad news for you: People are ticked off.

They’re ticked — royally — about pretty much everything: guns, kneeling, not kneeling, walls, refugees, Starbucks (in general) and anything that remotely resembles a political stance. If you’re not outraged about any or all of the above, there’s outrage for that, too.

Because of the state we’re in, I’d like to put forward a controversial idea (no, I’m not talking about the all-emoji newspaper again). My idea is this: the interrobang.

The interrobang (‽) is the passionate love child of the question mark and the exclamation point. While it’s still nonstandard punctuation, the interrobang simultaneously questions your competence and yells at you:

  • How dare you take ______ position on _____ issue‽
    Who do you think you are‽
  • You put pineapples on your pizza‽
  • What’s wrong with you‽

The interrobang is distinctly American: insulting yet efficient. And it fits our time perfectly.

Conceived by Martin Speckter in 1962, the interrobang gained some popularity for a hot second. Although most current computer fonts don’t support it, the interrobang was available on select typewriters in the late 1960s into the ’70s. You’ll find the word in the dictionary, yet you won’t find the symbol on your keyboard.

I think we’re living in the interrobang era, and it’s time to bring it into the mainstream. To type it easily, we’d have to vote off one of the characters on our standard keyboards. Which symbol gets the boot? How about the tilde (~)? Or maybe the little upside-down V thing above the 6 (^)? When’s the last time you used either of those?

In the same way Merriam-Webster adds words based on popular usage (and not critical approval), what does it take to get a punctuation mark added to common usage? If “listicle” and “humblebrag” made their way into the dictionary last year, the interrobang should seriously be considered as an addition to our bag of punctuation options in 2018.

Don’t you think‽