Every time I turn around these days there is yet another list of inspirational quotes or motivational messages circulating the internet – and like the common cold, they’re picked up by everyone and passed on. There we all are, hitting our ‘share’ and ‘like’ buttons before we’ve even absorbed the content, thought about our audience or weighed the value of what we are about to send out to the world as our contribution for the day.
I call these ‘internet bumper stickers’ – by which I mean we have turned a place for connecting and expanding our minds into the rusty bumper bar of a Datsun 120Y, crowded with peeling, faded stickers. We’re part of a cast of millions, trying to drive home messages that mean nothing and which have lost their value through mis-use, appropriation or the fact that they were penned by that prolific philosopher, ‘Anon’.
And then there’s the guilt by-line. “Post this if you care.” “Post this if you know someone who…” Or my favourite, “I’ll know my friends by those who re-post.”
You’ll have to pardon me, but while I do care and do know that ‘someone’, I also know that real friends don’t do guilt.
When it comes to giving and receiving real motivation and inspiration, real friends pick up the phone and connect. They listen over long coffees and multiple glasses of champagne. They counsel, commiserate, encourage and share experiences. And above all, they steer clear of vapid words they read on some website, preferring instead to engage with integrity and tailor their response to the individual, not the collective. And they know that although what they say may not be greeting card perfect, it comes from a place of truth.
It would be a shame if the bumper stickers of the internet eroded our ability to genuinely empathise with others, to reach inside ourselves and speak from the heart. And it would be a crying shame if we lost the rich history of good old fashioned verbal advice that we all grew-up hearing. Advice that suggested that occasionally life could be a bit shit, but you would get through – possibly stronger that you were before. Advice that didn’t feed our sense of entitlement, but rather suggested we might like to quit the whinging and step up our game. Advice that had roots in common-sense and sometimes sarcasm, because both can be just what the doctor ordered.
So before someone posts another list of sickly sweet, everything is going to be ok, advice on your FB page, and throws in some meaningless gif, here’s some classic quotes that got me and my peers through our first four decades… and will probably get us through the next four.
Feel free to copy and post them on your FB page and request a share. I’ll pop by and ‘like’ it 😉