5 Famous Figures That Stupid People Love to Misquote
We've all been in this scenario. You log on to Facebook, eyes still blurry with sleep as you coax yourself into consciousness with a hot cup of coffee. You mindlessly navigate through the weather complaints, humble brags, pictures of kids that belong to people you most likely haven't seen since high school, and you meaninglessly "like" all of it, purely out of obligation.
You scroll down a bit more, and that's when you see it: an obvious indication that someone's life is in shambles. Maybe they caught their significant other cheating, perhaps their cat died, or maybe the ending to the previous season of Game of Thrones was spoiled for them. The details are never immediately clear, but you know something is up, because their status is an ominous quote by some famous (and usually dead) person, followed by a frowning emoji.
Just so you know it's serious.
I get it. Not everyone is a wordsmith, especially when it comes to verbalizing feelings. And there are a lot of people that have said amazing and inspiring stuff. Shit, I love words. I can't even keep count of how often I use the word "genius" to describe a single verse in a song or reread a sentence in a book over and over because it's so well crafted that I wish I had written it myself. But words are tricky little bastards for a whole number of reasons. They're subjective, speculative, powerful, and completely malleable. Also, how they're used and who uses them can drastically alter the text in question.
This isn't to say you should cease your admiration of quotes or forgo the urge to post some amazing song lyric on your social media. Quote your little asses off. But context matters, and so does the source. There are a few people whose words it's time to stop using in your moment of introspection.
The Internet is an endless sea of information, but sometimes that information is complete shit. Such is the case when it comes to a handful of quotes people love to credit to Dr. Seuss. For example:
Inspiring! Also not a real quote! Not from Dr. Seuss, anyway. The actual quote was by financier Bernard Baruch, and the meaning behind it is way less profound than you think. Baruch wasn't issuing old-timey advice about ignoring your haters; he was talking about how he handled seating arrangements at his fancy-ass dinner parties, and his actual quote?
Not quite the affirmation when you know it came from some socialite talking about his first-world problems and essentially thumbing his nose at those beneath him, which he probably thought was everyone. In fact, it's outright dickish in that context.
Another non-Seussism that often gets misattributed is this:
This sounds like something straight out of a Cameron Crowe movie, so by default I dig it. But it's actually from Robert Fulghum's book True Love. It's fine if you still want to use it, but at the very least give the man his due credit.
I know. Those are just two quotes, and there are plenty of things Seuss did say or write that are totally quote-worthy, so why shouldn't you quote him? Well, because you're an adult, for starters. Beyond that, obviously, you can do whatever you damn well please, but at least take an extra couple minutes to make sure you're quoting the right person. It makes your obvious plea for attention slightly more palatable.
and Tupac and Biggie
Are you a young black man living in the ghetto or projects who turned to gangs and/or selling drugs because desperate times call for desperate measures? If so, great, flood your timeline with "Hit 'Em Up" quotes all day long. You've earned it.
The rest of you can shut right the fuck up, though. Sure, there's no standing rule that says you need to share the same ethnicity, troubled background, or socioeconomic status as the person you're quoting, but there are times when quoting rappers, especially these two, comes across more like cultural appropriation as opposed to legitimately relating to their lyrics or songs. Before you try to contest that statement, keep in mind that some statistics claim that anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of all mainstream rap music (yes, they are both mainstream, don't kid yourself) is purchased by a white, middle-class audience.
If that's not enough, the fact that Chris Brown (who I think anyone with a shred of sanity can agree is a grade A dipshit) just painted his Lamborghini with Tupac lyrics should be all the reason you need to swear off 'Pac quotes forever.
Is that Sanskrit?
This further proves two things: that Brown is a huge douchebag and that mostly privileged, self-entitled assholes quote Tupac lyrics. And with that, Tupac is probably rolling over in his grave.
If you're unsure who Wayne Dyer is, look for a nearby pair of mom jeans and ask the person wearing them for more information. He's on Oprah all the time, so that person will have the details you seek. Until then, all you need to know is that he's a "self-help" expert who's often credited as the source of countless meaningful and spiritual quotes, most of which you've almost certainly read on your respective social media timelines at one point or another.
"Only God can judge me." -Tupac Shakur
Well, I have bad news for your aunt in Minnesota and everyone else who lives their life by the teachings of Dyer: he may have plagiarized the shit out of those quotes. And by may, I mean he absolutely did, according to the people whose material he stole. The first book he wrote about his various theories, released in 1976, is almost completely jacked from a psychotherapist named Albert Ellis, who created something called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy back in the '50s.
In 2010, Dyer was sued again for plagiarizing 200 lines from two books by author Stephen Miller based on his interpretations of the Tao Te Ching. How's your soul feeling now?
You're probably thinking: "But Wayne Dyer has been on Oprah -- how can he be such a shitbag?" Well, Oprah may be rich and famous, but it's not the first time she's had a bullshit author on her show. You remember the James Frey fiasco, correct?
Speaking of Oprah, Dyer once shared a lovely little anecdote on her show about a "spiritual surgery" he received from a guy named John of God. I don't know about you, but that sounds more like a shady drug dealer that makes acid in his bathroom and is always asking to use your cellphone to make a quick phone call and not so much anyone that should administer anything resembling surgery. I'm also no doctor, but I have watched about five seasons of Grey's Anatomy (close enough), and a spiritual surgery sounds like total bullshit. Pretty sure no insurance is covering that.
The thing with all "self-help gurus" is that they are basically shilling the same ideas, some of it reworked versions of early Buddhist, Tao, or other religious or spiritual texts, and a chunk of it recycled from Dale Carnegie. Anyone who has ever worked in business is most likely familiar with the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. These guys are definitely influencing the money right out of your pocket and into their bank accounts. Spirituality has become a big business, and behind the smoke and mirrors, these gurus are raking it in. You really want to help yourself? Stop buying self-help books. Or, if nothing else, just stop posting passages from them on your Facebook page. That will help all of us.
I don't know why or when it happened, but at some point, Marilyn Monroe became the patron saint of social media. Let's just assume it can be traced back to some 14-year-old's glittery MySpace profile from 10 years ago. If I could, in fact, turn back time, I would find a way to cancel this person's Internet and have saved us from the countless times these damn quotes get overused.
An especially popular one is some iteration of this ...
Except, wait for it ... there is zero evidence she ever said that. And if she had, it probably wasn't to insinuate that acting like an asshole was completely OK and being nice was an honor you needed to earn from her.
Monroe was known for a lot of things: affairs with married men, multiple messy relationships, and a serious substance-abuse problem. She was basically her generation's Lindsay Lohan, but with more talent. Monroe also had a history of mental illness in her family and was even hospitalized at some point in the '60s due to severe depression. Some claim she suffered from borderline personality disorder.
None of those things makes her unquotable, of course. Clearly the woman had a lot of issues, and she dealt with them in a pretty destructive way.
Dating the president, for example.
Mental health wasn't treated the same way it is now, so who knows how her life could have ended up had she received the type of help she may have needed? It's one thing to be someone who is actually battling mental illness and struggling with substance abuse; it's another thing entirely to think that you should be excused for your shitty behavior because you're an entitled asshole. And that's usually how and when people like to invoke a non-Monroe quote.
Post this on your Facebook page to let people know you're unique.
Too often people use quotes for the wrong reasons. It's rarely a celebration of the creativity behind or the wisdom in the actual text itself. More often than not, people seem to post quotes just because they're from someone considered cool or edgy, rendered in the ideal typography. And how else is everyone supposed to know to flood them with compliments and sympathy if they don't go fishing for it over social media?
Sometimes life is a ball of shit, and we all have to take a big whiff. The way people process and deal with life's trials and tribulations varies. And social media is often an outlet for people who maybe feel slightly more comfortable communicating with a bit of a buffer zone. Like I said, I'm no doctor, so what the fuck do I know? But before you slap some clever quote up on the Internet, ask yourself this: am I the first-world snob who's complaining about something that isn't really such an issue in the first place?
For more from Cher, follow her on Twitter @thecherness.
For more crimes fit for a movie screen, check out 5 Basic Rules Guys Can't Seem to Follow on Dating Websites. And then check out 23 Famous Quotes You Know By Heart (That Are Totally Wrong).
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