So, y’know those motivational quotes that your friend posts all the time? Do you like them? Do you find them annoying?
Well, apparently they are the new internet evil. At least that’s what it’s looking like.
There is an article in VICE from December 2015, entitled “Your Facebook Friends Who Post BS Inspirational Quotes Really Are Dumb, Says Study“. This is really too bad because I, personally, kind of like VICE. They’re reporting can be sometimes pretty hard hitting. They kind of report the stuff that no one else wants to. It looks like even they aren’t immune to being trolls without a cause sometimes. In this article, Alison Tierney discusses a study from the University of Waterloo that has apparently found a correlation between low intelligence and “seemingly profound quotes”.
Besides the fact that this kind of proves that at least Canadian academia can get funding for a study on ANYTHING, doesn’t this just sort of prove that some people will go to almost any length just to give themselves permission to stick their finger in someone else’s eye?
I mean, let’s be honest, sometimes motivational quotes can be a little… I think the big word is “saccharine”, but come on! Some people just like them! If these motivational or inspirational quotes are not calling someone else down, or espousing violence or criminal behaviour, what is the problem? There are some people that go about their day just needing a pick-me-up, is this the worst thing in the world?
Further, can we just call it that this study was seemingly undertaken just because someone got mad about something they found on Facebook, just like everybody else does? It actually seems pretty incredible that inspirational quotes do anything for anybody nowadays because of how little we absorb the information on social media. I mean, how much of the constant flow of info do you retain when you go cross-country scrolling?
I actually just found an inspirational quote generator called InspiroBot. On this site, you just click the button and it barfs out some text at you “for endless [sic] enrichment of pointless human existence.”
Bad grammar aside, the idea is actually kind of novel… however all of the “inspirational” quotes InspiroBot provides you are at best dark humour delivered with the apparent intention to be snarky and nasty to someone else.
Full disclosure: I don’t know if Alison Tierney, the students behind the University of Waterloo study, or the developers of InspiroBot are intentionally trying to be awful to others but that’s certainly the impression one gets. I would guess that is because some people online have taken on the mission to help the world grow a spine or whatever. Let’s be honest, though, putting time and effort into a project for no other purpose than spoiling something someone else gets joy out of sounds a little counter-productive, doesn’t it?
This is really the narrative we have been working on at the Selfling Teen Support Foundation: being rude to others is just not working, it’s time for something else. Like, just think about what kind of positive impact you can make on another person. Think about whether you really need to comment on that post. The choice really is yours. Further, if you leave terrible comments about such a suggestion, well, you are kind of proving my point.
You could look at this another way: a person exercising the ability to leave a snarky retort under another person’s post – rather than something positive – is not really a sign of any kind of superior intellect or insight. It’s a sign that person is clearly dealing with their own internal conflict. End of discussion. I mean, I can’t imagine a person who has everything going for him, and who is in total control of his faculties, going out of his way to insult or call down another person for their opinion or for posting something they felt good about.
That’s the piece maybe you can take away if you have been marginalized because you post positive quotes or inspirational content: remember that troll who’s leaving a terrible comment under your uplifting post is doing so because they are dealing with something at the time that is making it hard – nigh impossible – for them to input that kind of information. That’s it. There is not anything wrong with you, you are doing what you need to do to feel better. That other guy just hasn’t found out what kind of thing will help him work out of his troubles.
Now, there is one time where maybe you might want to hold off on posting that inspirational quote. If you have a dramatic picture of Dwayne Johnson (or other celebrity) with a big snappy quote emblazoned across his gargantuan pectoral muscles, it should come as no surprise that people are going to think that The Rock actually said that quote. So you might want to either find out for sure that he said that or find some way of making it clear that the picture is just meant to highlight the impact of the quote. It just makes you look silly when you mistake a quote with the person who said it.
Ultimately, I have said it before and I will say it again, the unbridled and unhindered mud-slinging that we all seem to be unable NOT to indulge in on the internet is not evolving us as a species. Call in whatever arguments you like, every time we load up our trash text and fire away with a click of the “POST” button, we are making the situation worse. There is so much nasty stuff already happening in this world that we have every reason to just stop.
Are you inspired yet?