It might seem a bit hypocritical to use an inspirational quote to show why inspirational quotes are extremely overdone on Twitter, but bear with me. “Well done is greater than well said” goes the quote. And it sorta fits: You don’t need to use quotes to get your message across on Twitter. Use your own words! Do your own thinking rather than saying someone else’s words.
But some of you might say I’m reaching here, and you’d be right. The quote kind of works, but only because you did a little mental gymnastics and made it work. And so it goes with most of the overused, underwhelming quotes I see on Twitter.
Ben Franklin was a very smart man. Jane Austin has some beautiful words to say about love. And Anon seems to know a little something about everything. But these folks seem to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting on Twitter, and I’d really love to see the spotlight shone on elsewhere.
Now, I understand why Twitter loves quotes. They are short, first of all. Hundreds of quotes from recognizable names can be found that clock in at 140 characters or less. Quotes are also very sharable. Because most of them are generic enough to be applied to dozens of unique situations, tweeting quotes can net someone a hefty number of retweets. In fact, you’ll often see social media pros recommending inspirational quotes in their lists of ways to get retweeted (something I myself may or may not be guilty of espousing in the past).
The general sentiment towards quotes is split in two: one camp thinks they’re the bees knees and totally applicable to their work and personal life. The other camp thinks they’re cheesy and cliche. And although this second group might be growing, the first has made their mark on Twitter. Inspirational quotes are everywhere you look – and that’s part of the problem.
My problem with quotes is not that they’re not a good fit for Twitter, but that they can obscure original thinking and make Twitter a lazy place. They’re like weeds. Since a great quote can apply to numerous situations, they’ll be retweeted like wildfire, popping up everywhere. Original tweets from the accounts retweeting this quote get pushed aside.
Rather than commenting on a topical news item, people turn to what’s already been said. Don’t get me wrong: there are some brilliant quotes out there that are totally applicable to pretty much every situation. But why not use your own brain and come up with something poignant and witty to say yourself?
Quotes have their time and place, but I’d be a much happier Twitter-er if I saw fewer of them in my timeline. So do me a favor and next time you feel like retweeting that amazing, inspiring quote you happened to spot in your timeline, come up with your own instead.
(Quote image via Shutterstock.)