Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Are you quotable?

A friend in a recent Facebook post asked people for inspirational quotes for when times are tough. Before reading anyone else’s comments, I consider the question. The first quote that came to mind was “Faith in myself gives me the strength to carry on.”—John Wetton.

I typed in my response, and even attributed the quote to John Wetton. I realized that many people on that list wouldn’t know John Wetton is the lead singer for the rock group “Asia.” The quote comes from one of their songs. But to me, it didn’t matter. That quote has had a huge impact on my life.

Then I began to read some of the other quotes people posted. It was interesting to see how many people included scriptures. Those who didn’t use a scripture included quotes from people with recognizable names (at least the names were recognizable to me).

Over the next few days, I became more aware of quotes posted on the internet, on walls in classrooms, and even in TV ads. It got me thinking, “Is a quote initially more believable or credible if it comes from a source that is well known and respected?” My answer was a reluctant, “yes.”

Yet some people try to hide, or mask, the source because what was said was impactful, but the source may not be immediately recognizable.

For example, in a recent TV spot promoting a movie, in huge letters it said, “INCREDIBLE!” Then in small font, too small to read even on a large HD screen, the person who said the quote was listed. For all I know, it could have been Biffy the Laughing Dog.

And then sometimes there is a title, of sorts, attached to the person’s name to help the public realize the source is credible. Sometimes it works, other times, not so much.

I saw an advertisement for a book on the internet. The quote was fantastic and highly praised the book. But I’ll admit that the quote lost some of its merit when the person was described as a “Goodreads Reader.” To be qualified as that, all you have to do is post a review on a website called “Goodreads” which really anyone can do.

But the question of being quotable can be taken a step further. “Does a quote have more value if it comes from a source that is well known?” To that, I’m going to say, “Really, not so much.”

I couldn’t tell you who first said, “Don’t spit into the wind,” but I can tell you that quote has had significantly more meaning to me than when a high educated and respected person wrote, “Hermeneutics achieves its actual productivity only when it musters sufficient self-reflection to reflect simultaneously about its own critical endeavors, that is, about its own limitations and the relativity of its own position.”

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