Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration. But not by much. Everywhere I turn I feel bombarded by quotations – Twitter, Google+, blogs, Tumblrs, YouTube videos … yes, even YouTube has given over to the quotation mania.
Now, I’m not a stranger to being inspired by profound words. But I swear sometimes my Twitterfeed is jam-packed with folks who tweet quote after quote after quote without any regard for the possibility that those words may not actually be insightful.
I bristle so often at this quotation trend I’ve learned to start reading tweets from the bottom up. If there’s a horizontal bar or swung dash followed by a famous name, I automatically skip the tweet. Sometimes I skip it and roll my eyes in the process.
I’ve never been one for platitudes and cliches, and although I occasionally do find a quote worth admiring or sharing, most tend to state an idea that’s either 1) painfully obvious or 2) inherently false.
Don’t tell me that the only thing I have to fear is fear itself. What about rape or homelessness or Katherine Heigl movies? I’d say those are legitimate fears. Don’t tell me that no one can make me feel inferior without my permission. History is full of examples of people being subjugated and dehumanized without their permission, Eleanor. And you know this because you fought long and hard to change that.
The worst are those cliches where the statement has progressed past any specific attribution. The words of those not-so-pithy adages that insult the intelligence of the listener and make the speaker look like a condescending jerk. You know the ones I’m talking about …
“You’ll never know until you try.”
“Life’s too short to [fill in the blank].”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
Really? Who finds these platitudes to be the perfect shot in the arm to get back on track? I fear that if one of these statements is all it took to get you to feel less discouraged about a problem, you weren’t really that discouraged to begin with. Or you’re a really simple person. And there’s nothing wrong with you if you are, but please don’t assume that I am.
If you repeat a quotation that is a denial of reality (“No one expects you to be perfect.”) or an oversimplification of … well, anything (“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”), I have no choice but to ignore or despise you. Ok. Maybe not despise you, but respect you a little less.
Now I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m a complete fuddy-duddy, so attached to my love for realism that I can’t find inspiration or profundity in a statement that rings true.
Here are a few of my favorites and why …
“Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage.” —Anais Nin
I’m not a big fan of Nin’s work, but I learned the truth of this statement on my own. Like a scientific experiment, I found that the more I pushed myself out onto that limb where everyone told me not to go, the more I discovered about myself and the possibilities of what could be.
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” —Coco Chanel
I know what you’re thinking. Another French chick?! Hey, what can I say? Sometimes those dames had it right. Now, I think what sets this quote apart from similar sentiments is the last word “Aloud.” I’m sure plenty of us still think for ourselves, but it doesn’t become courageous until we’re willing to put action behind it and let the thoughts be heard. Even if the consequences are severe. ::coughKanyecough::
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift; the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created
a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” —Albert Einstein
Einstein’s words eloquently capture my perspective on society’s lopsided value of certain types of intelligence over others. A person with strong verbal or math skills is regarded as superior to those with strong artistic or interpersonal skills. Yes, we may pay athletes millions to keep us entertained, but we’re quick to deride them as “dumb jocks” or “dimwits” when they speak. There’s a strange prejudice at work here that reflects poorly on our culture, and Einstein was right to call attention to it.
Clearly, I’m biased in my own way regarding quotes and social media’s fervent love in sharing them. Am I being a bit intolerant of others’ sources for inspiration? Yes. Am I being unreasonable in my desire to avoid platitudes as much as possible? Nope. I simply dream of a world where I’m not bombarded with trite cliches that pass for wisdom. Or Katherine Heigl movies. Is that too much to ask?
Are you annoyed by the constant quote sharing on social media sites?
Do you believe all quotes are created equal?