What did I just say?

Nothing on here about my lunch.....

Facebook status lines are weird. Some people use them like Twitter feeds, monitoring their daily activity: “Breakfast! Coffee time! Hey, I bought a doughnut! Lunch! Woo Hoo!”*   Some people use them to keep us all abreast of the news, reposting news articles or good blogs. And some people treat them like they are a portal into their very soul, and they try really hard to make each status update something memorable, something to make you pause and go “Wow! What wisdom! I feel truly blessed.”

So, with the death of Osama bin Laden, we received a bunch of jokes (“Farewell Hide and Seek champion of 2011” being the most repeated, although I laughed when a friend posted that Donald Trump was demanding to see the death certificate….) we heard about someone’s lunch, we had many links to press reports, and we had THAT quote. You know the…er…MLK one:

I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy

It reached us via the status bars of a few friends and we reposted it, wanted to join the legion of super-cool folks, but also agreeing with the sentiment behind the words. Seeing the baying mob outside the White House was disturbing, and we wanted to add our voices to the people saying “He was bad, he was wrong, I’m glad he won’t be influencing any more people (directly, though I’m sure his voice will be used by others) but this carnival over his death isn’t right.” You know what it reminded me of? The guys who danced in the streets burning American flags after 9/11.

So we reposted the words, and later, reading Twitter, I saw Penn Jillette apologising for not checking his quotes thoroughly, and saying he didn’t make it up. He mentioned Martin Luther King, but I didn’t make the connection. Then this morning a friend commented on my status, saying the attribution may have been in error, and sure enough, today I find this post:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/05/the-shy-woman-whose-words-accidentally-became-martin-luther-kings/238309/

(Courtesy of Richard James)

So folks, two points to take away today: The power of well written words, for one. Jessica Dovey thought about her reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden and wrote something simple but heartfelt. I bet she worked hard on those words before pressing that button. Secondly, the power of Social Media. Her friends liked what they read (and okay, maybe they misunderstood where it came from, but I think they’d have taken it up all the same) and they sent it on….and it travelled around the world. JK Rowling became an international sensation with a series of books. Jessica Dovey became a worldwide sensation with a sentence.

Have YOU unintentionally misquoted someone? Who corrected you? Do you have to put people straight when they get a quote wrong? Or better yet, have you said something on Social Media that you later saw reposted by someone you don’t know?

Damian Trasler is a playwright, Script Reader and househusband, though not always in that order. He once wrote something that was quoted by someone else, which was “Yes, but what did you think of the PLAY, Mrs Lincoln?” No one gets it. He wrote a book about writing plays which you can download and buy HERE

*and I’m not saying this is wrong, just…well, before FaceBook, would you have rung up your friends to pass on this information? “Hey, Tanya, I just bought a doughnut! Yeah, it’s frosted and…You’re in a meeting? I’ll call back. And tell you about my sandwich.”

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7 responses to “What did I just say?

  1. Jess Witkins

    I saw that status too. I’m glad the real writer of it got credit back. I agree with her sentiments exactly. I am glad he is gone and do no more harm. But I can’t celebrate all the catchy death slogans and media excuses to use bad language on the front of newspapers. None of that helps us heal in my opinion. “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” And that IS Martin Luther King Jr.

  2. Repeat – the POWER of social media. I can’t believe how fast word spreads….I was in awe of all the tweets Sunday night, then flipped over to FB and it was just as busy. So much for the media…maybe we can finally shut them up this way. Enjoyed your post, D – have a great vaca!

    • I loved the fact that the operation itself appeared on Twitter, albeit as a noise complaint by a local resident (who then went on to become an internet celebrity.) People power….

  3. I really had not heard of Jessica Dovey til I read this. I’ve been avoiding the whole bin Laden thing. I’m conflicted to be honest. I’m glad his threat is gone but I don’t think celebrations are appropriate either.
    As for misquoting, I’ve done it but not online. I try to correct myself and if necessary apologize. If it ever happens online I’ll do the same.

    Here’s my quote from For Whom the Bell Tolls by John Donne:

    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

  4. realanonymousgirl2011

    I hate extremely long status updates. I don’t want to read someone’s biography, I just want to read something witty or interesting. I don’t mind quotes, but sometimes that’s all people post everyday. I’m fond of updating my food status!

  5. Facebook has changed EVERYTHING, for good or ill, I don’t know.

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