I don't have time to verify things because #YOLO.
My number one pet peeve is being asked to sign for other people’s packages. I don’t want or need the responsibility of watching a fruit bouquet go room temperature because someone picked 1-Day Guaranteed Shipping and then didn’t bother to verify if anyone would be around to accept it.
Coming in at a close second is opening my Facebook newsfeed to see a cluster of quotes, misappropriated or taken out of context by my female peers. LADIES. You are literally using an information machine with your browser open! You’re telling me you can’t be bothered to click into a new tab and just shitting Google the origin of that apparent Kate Winslet mouth-gem? It’s the epitome of lazy, AND it makes you look like a jerk.
In all honesty, it feels like an epidemic; like a plague that swept through the high schools and then quickly spread to college girls, their mothers, and beyond. No one is immune, and the only cure is not being so fucking indifferent and that’s never going to happen.
So, with an angry swarm of bees nesting under my sternum, I’ve compiled a few of the quote types I see slaughtered the most.
1. The “Chivalry is Dead” Quote
I see this Fitzgerald quote ALL THE TIME. It pops up in my newsfeed on an almost daily basis, with increased frequency as the calendar approaches Valentine’s Day. Annoyingly, I also usually find that it’s hashtagged to death with things like #whenmenweremen, #romance, #borninthewrongera, #chivalry, #realmen - you get the point.
First of all, YOU WERE BORN IN THE RIGHT ERA. I often hear girls bemoan their time placement because, once upon a time, men held doors and used creative adjectives. But I’m sure you also enjoy voting and going to college and being able to wear pants without being stoned as a witch, so yeah, you’re pretty fortunate. I too have found myself thinking that my child-bearing hips would be better suited to a time when I could’ve been immortalized in oil by Peter Paul Rubens - but then, I’d also have died at 19 of appendicitis. So count your blessings and your flu shots.
Second, before you hashtagged that photo about F. Scott being a “real man” and “chivalrous,” did you bother to check out the history of his love life with the subject of the above quote? That particular note was written in a private letter after F. Scott and Zelda broke off their engagement. They did eventually marry, but the marriage was tumultuously unhappy and riddled with affairs, fights, and dishonesty. Not to mention, he plagiarized Zelda’s private diaries and used excerpts freely and without credit in This Side of Paradise.
The fact that huge sections of that quote are MISSING aside, before you post stuff like that on your Facebook - because you’re pissed a date didn’t pay for dinner or didn’t respond instantaneously to your seventeen rapid text messages about NEW GIRL - Zelda and F. Scott never divorced, but they never saw each other again after 1938. Zelda died when a fire engulfed the mental institution in which she was confined and F. Scott drank himself into cardiac arrest while living and having an affair with Sheila Graham.
I think there might be better examples of true love - and please, I don’t want to hear anything about teenagers offing themselves after seeing each other once at a party.
2. The “All You Need Is Love and Not Things” Quote
Since I already ripped into Fitzy, it’s only fair that Zelda gets her share.
I see this quote more than I’d like, from girls who sandwich it between pictures of Coach purses and duck-faced selfies.
I understand wanting to feel all the things and live honestly with your entire heart - but I’m not sure Zelda is the ideal role model for loving first and living second. I mean, this is the woman who was asked to contribute a recipe for a cookbook and offered, “See if there is any bacon, and if there is, ask the cook which pan to fry it in.“ It’s not really something that screams, “I’m living incidentally!” And when speaking of her husband’s about-to-be-published book The Beautiful and the Damned she hoped it would sell, only because she knew “where there is the cutest cloth of gold dress for only $300 in a store on Forty-second Street, and, also, if enough people buy it where there is a platinum ring with a complete circlet”….to buy for herself. In the same breath she admits that her husband needs a new winter jacket, but that gold plates and rings are far more important.
Though, I could be totally wrong and she could’ve very well made loving others her primary concern. But something tells me that isn’t the case, and your Instagram account dedicated to photos of champagne don’t reassure me that it’s your primary objective either.
3. The “Born Original” Quote
If you actually read The Bell Jar in high school, then you know that Sylvia Plath was not known for her measured reactions. But, she shared everything truthfully and honestly and the quote above certainly speaks to that.
The issue is, I often find this quote on Pinterest boards titled, “We Are Like Snowflakes” or “Don’t Die a Copy”…and that’s the part that really gets my sweater in a knot. The above bit is so out of context; it’s probable that the original quote hit a wall of irony, exploded into sad fragments, and this was all that remained. The actual excerpt, in it’s entirety, is from Plath’s Abridged Journals where she describes a gaggle of party-goers as being monotonously identical.
She says, “But everybody has exactly the same smiling frightened face, with the look that says, ‘I’m important. If you only get to know me, you will see how important I am. Look into my eyes. Kiss me, and you will see how important I am.”’ Plath then proceeds to expand on how every girl present at the gathering is alike in her thoughts and desires.
So really, when you use the above quote to remind people that you’re unique and original, you’re really just reaffirming Plath’s lamentation that everyone suffers from delusions of grandeur mixed with same-y sameness. Not to mention, when you post this out of context, it feels like you’re equating your importance with your ability to offer sex. I feel like Plath would want you to aspire to more.
4. The “I’m a Free Spirit” Quote
If I had a nickel for every hipster girl sporting a leather headband with this tattoo scrawled across her ribcage, I’d be richer than J.K. Rowling.
I honestly don’t know if any of them even bothered to look it up, or if they just saw “wild” and “free” and immediately proceeded inking it into their flesh. And really, I can’t think of what’s worse: THAT or the fact that when I Googled it, the first thing to come up was not the original lecture, but a Yahoo! Answers page from a girl wanting this as a tattoo and not knowing the source. I have nothing against tattoos, I just think you should know exactly what you’re putting on your body.
And here’s the thing, Henry David Thoreau is not talking about drinking all night at Drais or making out with a DJ to rebel against your conservative father - he’s talking about walking in the woods. As in, taking a long, peaceful saunter through the forest. Alone.
In his essay “Walking,” which started as a lecture given in 1851, Thoreau talks about his loathing of the American society system and how industrialization is killing our souls; and begs his audience to part with all of that and just stroll by a river. Seriously. Did you read it? Because there is an entire paragraph dedicated to how blue the sky is in Canada, followed by a list of North American plants.
Maybe you take a lot of nature walks, and so, I’m not talking to you. But I bring this up because I feel like girls are using this quote as an excuse to make poor life decisions and exhibit bad behavior. They drop references to it and expect that it totally forgives that time they vomited in a public fountain. Do you really want to be an example of Thoreau’s “wild and free?” Start a compost pile. Hunt your own meat. Move out of the city and become a farmer. But don’t drop acid and then run through Coachella wearing only glowsticks while calling on Thoreau to defend you - because you’re doing it wrong.
5. The “Beauty Is On the Inside” Quote
This is the one I see the most. Right up there with choice bits of Marilyn Monroe’s relationship advice, I see variations on this Audrey Hepburn quote constantly. It almost has a life of it’s own in decals, t-shirts, picture frames and Pinterest boards. I see a lot of pictures of baby girl nurseries, bedazzled in pink, with this quote painted above the crib.
I’d want my daughter to think the same things: help the needy, be kind, learn, find the good in people. It’s definitely sweet and made sweeter by the fact that someone as aesthetically pleasing as Hepburn wanted to bring the focus off of her outward appearance.
But she didn’t say it. At least, she wasn’t the first. Hepburn was often asked for vapid beauty tips by magazines and newspapers, something she disliked. She found her answer in an essay by humorist, Sam Levenson. While she is quoted saying the above list many times, she was always careful to give Levenson credit. But somewhere along the line, this Catskills comedian got cut out completely.
And I’m guessing it’s because this:
doesn’t look as good above your shabby chic mantlepiece.
Admittedly, the Internet can be a hard beast to navigate. There’s a lot to take in and a ton of untruths to avoid - but that doesn’t mean you should just give up trying to find facts and blindly repost something because that’s the easier option.
Barring that, if you honestly can’t be bothered to verify a quote, then make one of your own. REALLY be original and use your own words to describe how you feel, instead of using someone else’s.
Here, I’ll go first: “Be original and use your own words to describe how you feel, instead of using someone else’s.” - Averie Huffine, 4 seconds ago.
That one’s for free.
“Be the Change you wish to see in the World.” ~ (Not) Gandhi
Via Waylon Lewis on Aug 30, 2011
…Gandhi’s words have been tweaked a little too in recent years. Perhaps you’ve noticed a bumper sticker that purports to quote him: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” When you first come across it, this does sound like something Gandhi would have said. But when you think about it a little, it starts to sound more like … a bumper sticker. Displayed brightly on the back of a Prius, it suggests that your responsibilities begin and end with your own behavior. It’s apolitical, and a little smug. ***
Sure enough, it turns out there is no reliable documentary evidence for the quotation. The closest verifiable remark we have from Gandhi is this:“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
Here, Gandhi is telling us that personal and social transformation go hand in hand, but there is no suggestion in his words that personal transformation is enough. In fact, for Gandhi, the struggle to bring about a better world involved not only stringent self-denial and rigorous adherence to the philosophy of nonviolence; it also involved a steady awareness that one person, alone, can’t change anything, an awareness that unjust authority can be overturned only by great numbers of people working together with discipline and persistence.
When you start to become aware of these bogus quotations, you can’t stop finding them…
Ah well, a quote is a quote is a quote. I’m all for sourcing, but when a good quote strikes you…go with it. :)
***: My comment about that statement…I don’t think that’s what the quote means at all. To me “Be the change you wish to see in the world” means taking responsibility for your own actions and practicing what you preach - being less of a hypocrite and more of an improved version of your former self. From your transformation comes change that spreads to those around you. :)