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Why I Hate Quotations

By Mike Cameron. On Feb 25, 2016.

OK, maybe hate is too strong a word but with the continued growth of social media and the vast amount of content out there it seems like there is a quote designed to fit just about any occasion.  Historically I have loved quotes and have made many different ones my go to for a long time.  Quotes are succinct, bite sized pieces of information that can easily convey a powerful message in a meaningful way.

Given the amount of ADD that we live with as a society it is easy to see why the use of quotes and memes have exploded.  According to research, the average attention span has dropped to 8.5 seconds in 2015 from 12 seconds in 2000.  Are you still with me?  Good!

What could possibly be wrong with sharing great quotes that capture a thought, idea, spirit or meaning in 8.5 seconds?

As with pretty much everything in my life I like to challenge conventional wisdom.  I am a firm believer that if you really want to make things better you should question everything.  I have talked about this a lot in some of my sales presentations.  Asking questions can literally physiologically, change your way of thinking.  It is through the effective use of questions that we can effectively change consumers way of thinking (I will spare you the research on this but trust me it is there).  The interesting thing is that this also works on our own minds.  When we blindly accept the status quo we leave little room for growth and absolutely no room for change.

One of the things that I fear in this digital age is the demise of meaningful thought.  While I agree that technology truly is a force for effective change and efficiency it can also allow us to get a little lazy when it comes to our thoughts.  Yes, sometimes this is a good thing.  I mean, let’s face it, when is the last time you actually used your brain to remember someones phone number?  My guess is that if you are like many people you probably do not even remember your spouses number.  Heaven forbid we ever lose our smart device and have to try and contact people again.

We live in a world where we really do not have to think at all.  How many times have you been out at a dinner party in a deep discussion with someone when a question comes up that nobody knows the definitive answer to?  What is the first think with Googlething you do?  Ok, let me rephrase that because I’m sure many of you have more social etiquette than I do, what’s the first thing I would do?  Yeah, you guessed it, pull out my smart phone and google the answer.  We live in a world where the internet has made thinking redundant, superfluous and irrelevant.  We live in a world where we gain efficiency at the cost of critical thinking.  Where we are actively discouraged from having our own thoughts and ideas.  Ironically, as I write this post, my ADD pulls me over to the twitter machine and what do I see but a promoted tweet from Google for the account “Think with Google”.

I think I have made my point around the ease of access to information and the resulting disconnect in our need to actually put some energy into using our grey matter to come up with new ideas or concepts.  As a sidebar, one of my favourite Ted talks is by a young autistic boy who talks about why we should “Stop learning, and start thinking”.  You can see the Ted Talk here. It is worth the 18 minutes to watch.

So what the hell does this have to do with quotes?  While I think that quotes can be useful, bite sized pieces of information I worry that the ease of access to them simply contributes to the move for us to think less and and simply accept the information presented to you.  What if you had to create your own quotes to demonstrate and carry your thoughts and beliefs through the annals of time?  What would you have to do to distill and encapsulate your thoughts and ideas down into a single slogan, sentence or paragraph?  Would there be the possibility that you might come up with new thoughts, ideas or concepts?

I think that there is a very good likelihood that that is exactly what would happen.  So when I go online and post self quotes it is not borne out of some narcissistic need that compels me to pat myself on my back.  It is simply because I like to challenge myself and I find this an efficient way of doing so.  I enjoy challenging everything around me and trying to come up with new thoughts and ideas or possibly reframe old ones.

Maybe, just maybe I can frame a concept in a way that no one has done before.  Maybe, just maybe I can convey an important idea in a manner that speaks to someone in a way that they have never been spoken to.  And maybe, just maybe I can change my little corner of the planet by putting a little bit of effort into setting aside my quest for knowledge, and taking the time to think about what I have learned over the years.  That is my hope for both you and I.  That together, by looking at things a little differently we can in fact, change the world.

I have made these challenges to a number of my friends and I will make it to you today.

  1. The next time you see a quote that resonates with you, take it, challenge it and have a debate with yourself taking the counter point to the quote that you so love.  Nothing bad can come from this.  Either you will shore up your beliefs or you will destroy them and come up with a new way of thinking.
  2. The next time you want to share a famous quote or an image, take a moment and come up with your own quote.  Come up with a tasty little morsel of a sound bite that encapsulates a belief, an idea or concept that you hold true and share that with the world.

Your self quotes are welcome in the comments below.  Let’s get those thinking caps on!

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