“Insert Self-Defining Quote Here”

Remember when Facebook had a section on your profile where you could type out your favorite quotes? For all I know, it could still have this section, but if so it’s apparently buried among the many other changes to the site that have been implemented for the pure sake of busywork. But that’s another topic for another day.

Anyway, I never liked the quote section of Facebook, especially when people typed out like ten quotes that all said basically the same contrived thing. These were often of the “Live simply, laugh often, love deeply” variety and were accompanied by lyrics to “I Hope You Dance.” Really? Of ALL the quotes in the world, this is what you’re choosing? Tsk, tsk; someone was too busy listening to adult contemporary to read the memo on how easy it is to come off looking like a moron on Facebook.

Well, I’m glad at least someone gleaned some inspiration from the music being played in the waiting room of the dentist’s office.

I find solace in the words of Emerson as well as Snoop Dog.

But even if the quotes were a bit more substantial (ie, written by someone who was not being paid by Hallmark), I still got annoyed with them. Again, my annoyance was exacerbated when the quotes came in rapid fire. The person would have a thoughtful and feasibly inspirational quote from Emerson or Thoreau. (Those Transcendentalists sure speak to our generation, eh?) Then, with no warning whatsoever, the next quote would be from some random episode of Friends when Joey drops a meatball sub. The next would be from the Bible. Followed by the next that would come from Ronald Reagan where he waxed poetic about horses or something.

I’ll give it to you that everyone has disparate interests. Watch me drop this one:

“Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman

Oh yeah! I can wield me a quote! So, yeah, I’ll give it to you that by virtue of our humanity, we’re multifaceted and the quotes we identify with are not going to fall in one single category. But seriously; on Facebook, let’s just keep it down to one or two. Choose the quote you want to sum yourself up with or else confirm all your “friends’ ” suspicions that you’re just as schizophrenic as you seemed in college. Edit, folks, edit.

I think my main beef with people who “collect” quotes and then rattle them off with no commentary whatsoever is rooted in my own aversion to share the ones that mean a lot to me. I have a need to thoroughly explain why a quote is important or relevant to me, and if no opportunity to comment on its importance is provided, I’d rather just forego the quoting and instead create my own content.

Plus, I studied English for too long not to feel as though I’m hiding behind other people’s words when I start quoting them all the time. There is, after all, something to say for an author’s intention and context. Words are fluid and so is the mind, but it’s a failure on our part as readers and passers-on of quotes if we take the ones that sound good and perpetuate them with little regard to their original intent. This is why I cringe a lot of the time when Nietzsche is quoted.

Come to think of it, I also lived in Illinois for long enough to now equate sloppy quoting with tomfoolery and trickery, thanks to Rod Blagojevich.

Should I end this post with a quote? Probably. Someone could’ve always said it better than me.


  1. Boom! Whitman-ed!

    Leaves of Grass surpasses even The Godfather in quotes to drop into everyday conversations. Observe–

    Other person: “But didn’t you always say [insert paraphrased life philosophy here].”
    Me: *Shrug* “Meh. I contain multitudes.”
    OP: “You’re a douche.”

    OP: “Where do you want to meet up for lunch?”
    Me: “Look for me under your boot-soles.”
    OP: “You’re a douche.”

    See? And they said my English degree was worthless. Who’s laughing now? (Answer: Lit nerds. Because no one else gets those references.)

    1. YES! I would so rather be Whitman’d and Swift’d and Johnson’d than pwned. :D

  2. I was just thinking about this the other day and came very close to defriending a person because of all the relentless quotes. It seems to me that the more screwed up someone’s life is, the more quotes they post. That is why you will never see any quotes on my Facebook page. I am perfect.

    1. Hehehe I suspected you were, but now I’m glad you’ve confirmed it :)

  3. mommysaidaswearword · · Reply

    I swear I de-friend people who use a quote as a status every f*ing day. Its like serioulsy, I would rather read that you are making fucking toe jam sandwiches than read someover used quote flung out to cyberspace to inaccurately describe your personality or circumstance. Good grief.

    1. Right, if people wanted a new quote every day then they’d buy of of those calendars. Then Borders might still be in business. But it’s not…

  4. Wow, I never realized that Facebook generated those quotes. And here I thought one particular friend had become extremely well read. I am such a technological dinosaur. Great post.

    1. I don’t think they’re automatically generated except by robot people who are also in the habit of sharing every single image they even remotely liked on Pinterest.

  5. “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
    — Oscar Wilde

    That’s it for me….my last quote !!!

    1. You are the one and ONLY exception to this! Yours are actually GOOD :)

      1. OK good, here we go with one from Nonnie, ” Don’t shit in your own nest ” I believe that comes in many versions, but I like hers ~~

  6. Hangs my head and walks away sadly. Not cool enough to hang out with y’all.

    1. NO NO!!! You are and always will be cool! Once again I succeed in alienating and being rude to those I love the most. I really need to stop being so snarky on this blog :/

      1. No I love the snarky! Don’t worry it will take a lot more to alienate me !

  7. I’m frightened. I cannot relate to the FB quote problem, only the Illinois conundrum, as I once served as a page in the House of Reps in Springfield once upon an eon. Um, like in 1982. OMG. Blagojevich was only following in the footsteps of his predecessors. I hereby date myself. Ack. Small world. You have inspired me to go back to school and pursue a degree in English, to get a mastery on quotehood.

    1. He just REALLY annoyed me with how he was always throwing around Rudyard Kipling quotes and other quotes from people who were far, far, FAR more upstanding than him. It was similar to when people twist Bible verses to substantiate their hateful views.

  8. My problem with a lot of quotes is that the context is lost as the well-turned phrase is ripped from a passage. For example, my mom’s Christmas letter included a quote from the movie Mame about living life to the fullest, but left off the unfortunate results of following that advice.

    1. I am so guilty of doing this too. The title of this very blog (The Waiting) is yanked from a Tom Petty song, and at least once a week I debate changing it because I can’t sit comfortably knowing that the lyrics to the song don’t actually have very much bearing on being pregnant. I feel like I’m really forcing it. That was actually the whole inspiration for this post, but I ended up going off on a different tangent because it’s easier to pick on other people’s FB habits than to point the old microscope on myself. Yay, me.

  9. Teresa Silverthorn · · Reply

    Quotes are to be digested, and relished, one “bite” at a time. Like fine meal.

    Not thrown into a pile and stuffed into one’s mind like a trip to McDonald’s.


    1. Now, THAT’S a good quote!

  10. “Great post.” You can quote me on that.

    1. Thanks! Now I feel like I should write something on citation for in case I do quote you on it! These are the pitfalls of a former English major getting a blog.

  11. […] know I’m on the record for making some pretty harsh statements about the wielding of quotes, but I’m going to go back on everything I’ve said and end with one that neatly […]

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