Borrowed thoughts in borrowed words

It’s now so common to express your ideas through a quote borrowed from a prominent writer or expert that we’ve decided to give in and join the practice, starting with:

People who like quotations love meaningless generalizations.”
Graham Greene, Travels with my Aunt

A great question for an essay or maybe to discuss over a drink in the pub, but sadly too many people take the lazy way out and quote away with very little accompanying original thought.

I enjoy reading the work of Jerome K Jerome, but if you search for him on twitter there are two specific quotations tweeted so many times daily that you wonder whether these people have actually read anything by him. (You’ll have to search yourself as I won’t include them here.)

Quotations can be very powerful when used sparingly. After all, how many of us can better the words of the greatest thinkers and writers? But if we communicate our ideas solely through someone else’s language we end up sounding like receptacles for soundbites with no ability to think for ourselves.

I imagine that a lot of people who issue their daily quote quotas don’t think deeply, while some can but don’t feel confident enough to express themselves effectively. Perhaps they think their ideas will carry more weight when shored up by the words of a well-known figure, even though the genius of a great writer is more likely to overshadow their message.

My own preference is to hear someone express their thoughts in their own words.


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