ANDYVISION - watch me try to be creative. live.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Copying and pasting other people's quotes is stealing, not wisdom.

Here's a little piece of advice that I thought I'd share, directed at absolutely no one in particular. (I mean that. That's not sarcasm. Really.)


Every time that I get to the end of an email and see something like this:

Sounds great. Let's touch bases on this again tomorrow.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the
life you have imagined."

- Henry David Thoreau

it makes me want to get in my car, drive to wherever that person is sitting at that exact moment and shove their keyboard through their eye socket.

OK, that might be a little extreme.

But it's probably not.

Seriously, do you really think that the closing to your email is really going to inspire me to go out and change my life, Chaz? "I tell you what, man, my whole life I'd been living in ignorance until I saw that quote you pasted in that email to me that one day. I went out and sold all of my possessions and ran off to pursue my dream career in professional synchronized swimming. Look at me now! I'm the happiest boy on Earth! And it's all thanks to you and your inspirational quote!"

That brings me to the next point. It's not your quote; you can't act like it's your intellectual property. Just because you say it in every email you send out doesn't mean that you're a better person. In fact, putting your name right above some clever aphorism only highlights how much of an idiot you are in comparison. I don't care, whoever you are, you're not as brilliant a person as Thoreau, Churchill, Roosevelt, Aristotle or whoever else you're ripping off. They arrived at their moment of timeless clarity--that you so capriciously throw around--through a life of hardships, meditation and experience. Go out and alter the course of human history, and then we'll talk about the footer on your email.

In fact, that's another reason why you should be hit over the head with an Amazon box of Bartleby's. There is no way in hell that you can espouse some faux sagacious philosophy to me if you yourself haven't already achieved your own spiritual nirvana through it. If you're sending this to me I'm going to guess that you're probably the head librarian of a middle school media center or are answering phones at a local cement sales operation. Are you really living your dreams? No? Then don't tell me what to do with mine.

In fact, have you even read more than that single sentence of Thoreau's? OK, maybe you were supposed to read a few pages from Walden in ninth grade lit class. But clever you got the Cliff Notes so you wouldn't even have to read it. "Gross, reading." Point number ten: You can't use someone's quote as your mantra if you've never read anything by them or listened to a full speech of theirs or even watched a damn History Channel special about their life.

Basically, if you have to rely on someone else's wisdom as an attempt to counterbalance your own idiocy, you're probably better off just not calling attention to your vapidity in the first place. At the least, invent your own slogan that you really do strive to live by every day. But even then, I don't want to hear about it. That's because: A) I doubt you really do earnestly try to live by it in the first place, and B) if you really do, I should already know that; you shouldn't have to explicitly yell it at me in the closing line of any and all correspondences that we have.

In conclusion, get a life and stop stealing others.

Oh yeah, and this goes for pretty much all Facebook/high school yearbook quotes too.

This has been a public service announcement by me.


Dan said...

I’ve got one that’s even worse.

My long-time designer partner (who shall remain nameless, just like his fucking quotes), would post randomly-generated Mitch Hedberg one-liners in his signature. And he never attributed any of them to Mr. Hedberg.

Shit like:
P.S. That’s what part of the alphabet would look like without Q and R.

I never laughed either.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever wonder if that quote wasnt directed towards you? And for their own benifit? Why let something so small disturb you in such ways? Try seeing things from a positive point of view. Instead of focusing on all the negative.

Patio Action Pearson said...

Thanks for the comment, Anonymous.

To answer you question, this small thing doesn't disturb me so much. It just makes me said that so many people are out there looking for answers. Self-help books are perennial best-sellers in America. We consume truck loads of prescription medicine every year to regulate our happiness or fight imaginary diseases invented by drug companies.

So many people are looking something else to latch onto to help them. These little quotes at the end of emails are simply a symptom of that—what I see as a weakness.

I know it sounds uncompassionate, but I don't mean it to be. I just think that people need to look inside themselves for change. Stop looking external to quote and books and drugs. Make change for yourself. That's who can really affect it.

I also just have a problem, as I said, with people throwing quotes around without understand context. If someone's devoted part of their life to the study of Thoreau's philosophies and seeks to apply them to their lives, that's wonderful. But to throw it in with zero understand of the quote's true significance seems more like it's posturing to feign intellectuality and deepness.

And plus, inspirational quotes have never really done anything for me so I decided to write a silly, meaningless blog post about them. I hope you weren't offended. Everyone has different tastes. Those are just not mine.

Thanks for reading though! Please drop by again.