This isn’t so much a discussion post as it is an opportunity to tell a story about Pinterest, William Shakespeare and misattribution.
If you’re on Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr, than you’ve probably seen this quote:
Now, it doesn’t take an English degree or a comprehensive study of the Bard’s many works to know that this quote was not written by William Shakespeare. First off, it’s not written in iambic pentameter or any structured verse that I can see. And secondly, it doesn’t even sound like Shakespeare.
Recently, Joanna Goddard from the blog Cup of Jo pinned this quote to one of her boards. When a follower commented that it was not Shakespeare, she defended the quote saying that it was from a specific act and scene in Hamlet. (The original pin has since been deleted.) Now, I don’t know how many of you read the tale of the desperately-in-need-of-a-Zoloft Prince of Denmark, but this was not a guy who was running around smiling and falling in love. But who hasn’t been fooled by the Internet before?
If you Google this quote, you generate a murky soup of correct and incorrect attributions and it takes a little sifting to figure out that this quote was written by an Italian poet named Arrigo Boito. So if you like the quote please give the gentleman from Padua his due.
Sadly, there are thousands of misattributed quotes posted on sites like Brainy Quote, ThinkExist and the like, and it’s easy to fall victim to them when using social media. I usually Google quotes before I pin them to my Snark & Sentiment board on Pinterest, but even I make mistakes.
I’ve seen people on Pinterest argue that having this quote associated with William Shakespeare makes it even more beautiful or meaningful or whatever, but that’s crazy talk. Reading a quote that moves you might lead you to discover a new poet, author or historical figure, and expand your horizons a bit. Having the quote incorrectly linked to Shakespeare just let’s you cast it aside as one of the Bard’s many memorable one liners, and sets up American teenagers for a lot of incorrect answers to exam questions about Hamlet.
So before you pin or share or tweet or post a quote to your social media account, head over to Google and let the Interwebs help you determine who the quote really belongs to. You could learn something. Or, at the very least, save yourself from being the rube who got tangled in the Interwebs.
“You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet”– Abraham Lincoln.