|Chris McGinty of AccordingToWhim.com|
I’ve started to wonder about the quotations that we see as we’re scrolling down social media, and through quote websites. I’m not going to pretend that every quotation prior to the internet was entirely accurate. “Play it again, Sam,” was never said in “Casablanca.” The thing that started bothering me is that some quotations are starting to feel like social media postings. I don’t know if that’s a result of people using social media more, or if it’s that people who are using social media are making things up and rather than applying the standby “Anonymous” label, they’re just picking someone respected.
Let me talk about movies for a minute. I swear it has something to do with the topic, as long as I remember what my point was to begin with.
In 2008, there was a movie released called “The Happening.” Nathan said of the movie and I quote, “This is probably the best movie ever. Ever!” But don’t take my word for it. You can read his blog post about it, and you’ll find that exact quotation. Exact!
Note to self: Go edit Nathan’s blog post about “The Happening.” Include made up quotation.
“The Happening” was very good… at first. Then it was pretty good. Then it was questionable. By the end of the movie, I started to feel like it was a good movie as long as there was some sort of deeper meaning behind it that I was having trouble grasping. It really didn’t. The entire movie is predicated on a quotation attributed to Albert Einstein. The quotation – “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” – was featured in some form in the movie.
As I was reading about this quotation, it’s widely noted that there’s no record of him saying it. Some people feel it’s the kind of thing he might have said while another thought process was that it was made up by an environmental group.
Ultimately, I walked away from the movie not really being all that impressed. It had its merits, but I just wasn’t impressed. I need to talk about a good movie now.
In 1999, we were treated to “Mystery Men.” This was a fantastic superhero movie when no one was making fantastic superhero movies. It’s a comedy, so it has its detractors, but screw those people. It’s a funny and quotable movie. In fact, one of the characters, The Sphinx, is the master of sound bite wisdom, like the following:
“To learn my teachings, I must first teach you how to learn.”
“He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions.”
Each time he busts out with one of these gems, the group acts like their minds have been opened and enriched; except, that Mr. Furious starts to find himself not buying into it until finally he gets fed up.
Scene from Mystery Men: You can read along below. You'll know it's time to turn the page when Bob Seger...
Mr. Furious: Okay, am I the only one who finds these sayings just a little bit formulaic? “If you want to push something down, you have to pull it up. If you want to go left, you have to go right.” It’s...
The Sphinx: Your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you learn to master your rage...
Mr. Furious: ...your rage will become your master? That's what you were going to say. Right? Right?
The Sphinx: Not necessarily.
Relating these two movies to the topic, what started bothering me is that there would be Sphinx like quotations on social media that would be attributed to people who are great thinkers.
Maybe these are legitimate. Maybe The Sphinx was modeled after the use of these types of quotations. Or maybe The Sphinx stopped training superheroes and became an internet troll.
Now, I understand that there are plenty of sarcastic and ironic quotations out there that are meant to make us laugh.
Those are not what I’m talking about.
I’m going to create some new rules about quotations. I’m not sure what qualifies me to do this, but I’m going to do it anyway. You know why? Because the internet.
Let’s start finding quotations that are verified. What I mean by this is pull the actual quotations from sources you’re familiar with in some way. If you’re listening to an interview and someone says something interesting, quote from that. If you’re reading a book, and you find something interesting, quote from that. If you’re watching Albert Einstein’s You Tube channel… nevermind.
“If you make up a quotation, go ahead and take credit for it.” – Chris McGinty
“If you don’t want to take credit for a quotation you made up, go ahead and attribute it to no one.” – Anonymous
Finally, if you need to paraphrase something you heard, but either need to make it read better, or you can’t completely remember the quotation, go ahead and note that.“If you gotta paraphrase, just let us know, a’ight” – Chris McGinty (paraphrased)
I’ve decided that 90% or more of the time, I’m only going to quote if I’ve pulled the quotation from a source directly, or at least verified it. The other 10% of the time it’ll be things that are just difficult to get verification of because it was prior to mass media, or if I feel like the quotation sounds enough like who it’s being attributed to. The main point is that I want some quotations out there that are for sure legitimate.
In the meantime, if you’d like to read a quotation blog post that I created before I made these rules for myself. I’m reasonably sure that the quotations are valid, but I didn’t really verify them.
“I think I agree.” – Nathan Stout
Note: I’ll possibly write about context some other time.
Chris McGinty is a blogger who is clearly worth quoting. This is not to say to use direct quotations. He suggests that you look through his blog posts and find the words you need and arrange them into your own new quotations. "Go ahead. Verify these are legitimate. The blog post is a result of these 'The Happening' training Nathan, an internet troll, to master not really being all that impressed."