Uninspired

Charles Schulz once said, “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”

And that’s cute. And so are all the other little inspirational quotes people vomit onto my Facebook feed and my Twitter timeline. But I strongly dislike it. I strongly dislike all of them.

If one Googles “blog ideas,” one is led to various websites outlining the different forms and shapes in which blog posts can come: lists, reviews, personal essays, etc. A key bullet point in nearly all of these ideas is to make sure that one does not rant. “No one is interested in reading about a person’s personal vendettas,” the websites say. “Make sure everyone leaves your site laughing or smiling or feeling emotion,” say the websites. “Use your blog as an opportunity to voice your opinions and feelings, as long as those opinions and feelings are not obnoxious or angry,” the websites remind. For 41 other blog entries, I have adhered to the protocol of the all-knowing blog websites. Today, I will rebel against these well-meaning online resources. Today, I will rant.

Inspirational quoters would probably have what they perceive to be calming words of encouragement ready to post on my Facebook wall if they knew I was writing an abusive post about their favorite mind-numbing baloney circulating the inter-web. And yet, I proceed.

Here are the reasons (rant-y they may be) that inspirational quotes lead my mouse to the “unfollow” and “unfriend” buttons quicker than any posts about home-cooked meals ever have:

Context: Writing can inspire. I have read novels that have brought me to tears, essays that have motivated me to alter the way I perceive life itself. But these moments most often happen when I’m curled up in my pjs, sipping hot chocolate and focusing on the words on the pages in my hand. I’m not moved by little motivators that my thumb scrolls by on my iPhone when I have a few minutes of downtime before class or work. Taking one superior sentence from an essay and pasting it in front of a stock photo of a sunset does not inspire me without context.

Stupidity: Some (not all) of the supposedly inspirational quotes I’ve seen fail because they unintentionally decrease the intelligence quotient of their readers. A poster captioned with “Just hang in there,” accompanied by a kitten hanging from a tree doesn’t make me feel better prepared to tackle the obstacles of my day. It just makes me feel bad for the kitten. I don’t want an adorable baby animal to be forced to pose in different pathetic positions on the off-chance that its image will make a person feel better about his quote-fueled existence. And yet, it happens.

Underlying Assumption: Inspirational quotes are spewed across the internet with the underlying assumption that their words apply to everyone. That everyone can relate to the deep, meaningful nonsense Ghandi may or may not have said. The creators of the inspirational quote photos just come up with a sentence detailing a bit of common sense, then slap a famous person’s name on the end, hoping no one will fact check and everyone will repost.

To be fair, I suppose that if the goal of inspirational quotes is to invoke emotion, they have succeeded. I feel a strong emotion: irritation. But, I think as humans, we can do better than this. Call me naive, but I like to believe that we don’t need a cheesy poster or a cliche to achieve our goals or to find our place in life. Inspiration isn’t an app.

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