Where Have All the Good Quotes Gone?

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“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

“Give me liberty or give me death.”

I feel like we’re not getting high quality quotes anymore. Other than movie lines, I can’t remember quoting anyone in years. Except my boss – he’s got some good material (#brownnose). Politicians, athletes, business leaders, celebrities. Just not feeling it.

What qualifies a quote to be remembered and repeated? Through social media, there are more people saying more things for public consumption right now than ever in history. Is that opening the floodgates for better stuff, or is it stifling the opportunity for real gems to rise to the surface? Is there a difference between reading some 140-character genius from Joe Twitter User versus a celebrity or politician because they’re not already known? It’s been that way forever because only those in the public eye had the mouthpiece to say something memorable. But now that’s no longer the case.

Is the popularity of what’s said that can cause an utterance to outlive its fifteen minutes of fame (or 27 seconds before it bounces down the Tweet list and off your unscrolled screen)? Let’s hope not. The crown for “most retweeted tweet ever” was recently taken by Green Bay Packers offensive lineman TJ Lang’s rant against the replacement refs following the Packers’ unfortunate loss to the Seahawks on national television. While the message may have captured the sentiments of football fans everywhere in the world but the Pacific Northwest, it was hardly inspirational (and not necessarily appropriate for a page-a-day calendar!).

The current presidential race – where you’d expect would be the best place to get some good nuggets – isn’t exactly inspiring us either with timeless words of wisdom. I would blame that on the 24-hour news cycle and unbelievably aggressive media. There doesn’t seem to be any time or scenario for either of the candidates to wow us with some inspirational goodness. And the country’s not exactly waiting with baited breath. In fact, most people I talk to would just as soon like the campaign to be over. Gone are the days of families gathering around the radio to hear FDR speak directly to them. Now, the words are spun by either side by the time they hit your ears, so even if there was something particularly inspiring said, it’d be diluted by the left and right-wing filters.

In hindsight, maybe that’s actually the key to the election. Everything that’s going to be said over the next month is just everything that’s already been said regurgitated into another form. Perhaps the strategy is to put all of the campaign’s creative resources into finding one obscenely dynamic memorable quote that can be remembered and enjoyed for generations to come. A quote that people will be reciting as they go to the voting booth. It could be the difference maker.

Don’t have much hope for that, though. This close to the election, we’re on a runaway train of mindless rhetoric. I’m in true-blue New York so I don’t even get to see the bulk of it, so I feel for the Ohioans, Wisconsinites and Floridians who are perched by their televisions, radios and I-Pads fruitlessly waiting to be inspired! But we can dream.

Makes you wonder though how the great orators of the past would have gotten their message out today, and how well they would’ve been received. For that, I give you five of my favorite quotes, as delivered through Twitter:

#5 – Early 2 bed early 2 rise – UR healthy, wealthy, wise. @Franklin

#4 – U can fool sum people all the time, all the people sometimes, but U can’t fool all people all the time. @Lincoln16

#3 – Haven’t failed. Just found 10K ways that don’t work. @ThomasAlva #lightbulb

#2 – Journey of 1K miles begins with 1 step. @Confucius #wisdom

#1 – #Baseball: 90% mental other 1/2 physical @Yogi

Have you heard any memorable quotes recently? Do you have any favorite all-time quotes that are primed to be made Twitter-ready?