I am a huge fan of reading artistic inspiration by Julia Cameron, poetic inspiration by Rumi, watching the Ira Glass video over and over again, and digging every little thing about excellence ever quoted by Aristotle. Finding the right inspirational words can be the match to my inner creative rocket fuel.
I’m also a big fan of online social networks. You can see from my sidebar that I splash around Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr on a regular basis. I love being part of several conversations at once, and my virtual community is important to me. It’s like being at the center table of an exciting, clever, international lunchroom. You never know who is going to chime in with what kind of thoughts or accidentally laugh so hard he squirts milk out his nose. I love it.
But sometimes the conversation gets really boring. Lately it seems like there are 8,345,987 zillion different inspirational quotes by people both famous and not famous floating around the ether on little colored boxes just like the one above. I see different versions of “Just do it!” and “Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not great!” and “Love is awesome!” and “Having your heart broken kinda sucks, doesn’t it?” and “Get out there and be winner!” and on and on and on.
I can very much appreciate how useful it is to quote someone else’s words when you’re in a situation where you need a kick in the proverbial pants. I have posted and cross posted my fair share of words that make me feel better over the last few years. They can create an intention for the day, share with friends how you’re feeling, let someone know that you need a boost, start a conversation. . . All good stuff.
But I’m seeing so many quote-ables and inspiration-als and hypergraphic-ed motivation-als that their original purpose has become diluted. I’ve got some serious inspiration burnout, and that makes me sad.
There is way more gossip, snark, depressing news, and cat video watching on the internet than there is authentic and meaningful conversation about daily life. That’s mostly because daily life for a middle class American is not fireworks or disaster – it just kinda is. Both our splashy media addiction and our desire for a good adrenaline rush have convinced us that isn’t enough. Perhaps we’re all rooting around like truffle hunters for something that will bring more meaning and excitement to Tuesday afternoon drudgery. Perhaps a famous person’s words emblazoned on a pretty color make us feel a bit more alive. Perhaps linking to a quote honors the incomplete reflection that hovers in the back of each of our minds and expresses one more layer of frustration and existential loneliness. . .
Whatever the reason, there’s no point to getting carried away. So please, friends of the internet: If you’ve got a quote to share, great – but use them more judiciously. Restrict yourself to two per week. Then, the rest of the time, when you have big, frustrating, existentially lonely, excited, scared, wondering, or explosive thoughts hovering in the back of your mind, use your own words. It feels a whole lot better.