*Originally published on July 5, 2012
Social media has brought so much good to society. But as is typically the trade off with any good thing, it has also brought some bad as well. Maybe I should take a step back and rephrase this. Social media has not created as many bad things as it has annoying things. Spam, countless parody accounts, stupid applications, shameless promoting/solicitation, and scams all test the patience of anyone just trying to update themselves on the latest news via their favorite social media account. While I could do without all the previously listed things, there is one common social media annoyance that seems to bother me even a little more.
In my opinion, the posting, retweeting, and highlighting of quotes over social media has gotten a little out of control. I remember back in time you shared a quote if it had a deep personal impact on you, if it truly meant something that you felt someone else could get a little something out of. Today, it seems as if people don’t even think twice about sharing with their audience any sappy or witty remark they come across.
Now I fully understand that a reason for this oversharing of “words of wisdom” is because quotes are just so much more readily available than ever before. The internet contains millions and millions of quotes that you can read for hours with just a click of the mouse. There are tons upon tons of Twitter accounts set up that solely spit out quotes on any topic you can think of. E-mail chains with “inspirational” quotes are forwarded and forwarded until pretty much everyone on the planet has received it. But just because something is so attainable on the internet does not mean we have to re-share it with our respective social media audiences. Look at it this way: The amount of porn sites has significantly skyrocketed over the past ten years. Because of this explosion, does it mean we need to share the links on our Facebook walls and Twitter feeds? Absolutely not! And we don’t need to share quotes either.
There are a few reasons why quotes bother me so much on social media. First off, they serve as nothing more than clutter. I cringe when I am on Facebook and I check out my newsfeed and I see a big colored box with text inside it. What an eye sore. I want to see original content, I want to see pictures from someone’s weekend or a thoughtful status update that fills me in on an important development in someone’s life. I don’t want to see a crude box with some ugly font smashed into it that someone decided to share with the world. Same goes for Twitter. I follow you because I enjoy your content and am interested in what you have to say. I don’t need you to be the 56,798th person to retweet Wiz Khalifia’s relationship quote. If I wanted that advice I would subscribe to his tweets myself.
Yet another reason why I detest quotes so much is that people simply abuse them. There are people I follow on Twitter and friends who I have on Facebook who will retweet and share quote after quote after quote. It is bad enough when you clutter up your content by dropping in some generic quote but when you tweet out a string of five quotes in a row or 80% of your Facebook content is surrounded by quotation marks, you really need to reevaluate your social media goals. You devalue your social media accounts by doing this and you also chase away people from your pages who would otherwise actually look at your accounts if you didn’t post so much crap.
Finally, quotes turn me off simply because many of them are so stupid. The overly emotional, cliché, and relationship driven passages make me want to vomit. All of us have issues and concerns. Find some way to intelligently articulate them to the people who are close to you and who can be of help (or just keep them to yourself) but don’t try to express them by using some cheesy quote for all to see. Some of the quotes out there are just so corny I have no idea why people would associate themselves with them. Drawing attention to one’s problems through social media is sad, doing it with a quote is pathetic.
I know what you are thinking: “But Brent, you start each day on Twitter with a quote. You hypocrite, you.” Yes, first thing each morning I do send out a quote but it is more of a personal trademark thing for me than anything. Ever since I have had Twitter, I tweet out a short passage from my “Life’s Little Instruction” calendar for that particular day. I do it because a few people have requested that I do it because they enjoy them so much (they will text me and ask if I am dead if I don’t do it) and because it serves as a little knock on the people who do tweet out quotes as if their life depends on it. The quotes from this calendar are light-hearted and for the most part silly…they don’t speak for me in anyway and are intended to keep people happy and hopefully make others laugh. There you have it!
I urge people to value their own social media space a little more and to save the annoyance of others by toning down on the quotes just a little bit. Challenge yourself to be more original, don’t fall into the trap of enabling sap to proliferate through social media. (Enter whatever quote you have that speaks to resisting temptation right here). Don’t Blink.