Stop Misquoting Leonard Cohen and Ernest Hemingway. Start Listening and Reading.

Consider the misquote. It lies in that same realm as citing fake news or reading only the headline. Misquoting is certainly nothing new, but the internet allows a fake quote to be retweeted a thousand times before the truth has even clicked send.

I’ve written about this before, of course. In the summer of 2015, I wrote a blog post called Six Things Hemingway Never Said, in which I listed a series of fake, inaccurate, misappropriated, or apocryphal Hemingway quotes and their origins.

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“Live. Laugh. Love”

Since then, of course, it has only gotten worse. Consider the following list of quotes, provided by Google when one searches for ernest hemingway quotes:

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-12-21-40-pmI won’t catalogue all of these, but let’s say that they range from context-free to paraphrased to nonsense. The seventh is a misquote of a line he said during a famous article by Dorothy Parker in The New Yorker, while the last one on the list sounds like the social media status update of a moody teen.

Why do we misquote?

What is it about the internet and misquoting? What drives one to repeat something that someone else said without bothering to make sure that person said it?  Why would you put something on your Facebook wall, why tweet it, why make it into a cute photo for Instagram without confirming that, yes, it’s a real quote? Continue reading “Stop Misquoting Leonard Cohen and Ernest Hemingway. Start Listening and Reading.”

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Six Things Hemingway Never Said

The internet loves a good quote. Trouble is, the internet rarely cares if the quote was said by the person whose name follows it. It also rarely cares if the person being quoted would have ever, under any circumstances, said anything like what they are being quoted as saying.

What troubles me about this is that the result is often that important people, who said meaningful things, are turned into completely different entities on Facebook walls and in hashtags and in the kinds of stories that get forwarded on. One good example is that college classroom story in which Einstein proves God exists. Or a lot of the content in the subreddit /r/thathappened. This is also a practice that has been thoroughly mocked by Clickhole, as evidenced by the photo below:

One of Clickhole's many brilliant moments.
One of Clickhole’s many brilliant moments.

But worst of all, in my opinion, but also very hilarious, are the stories, quotes, and misquotes attributed to none other than the alcoholic, suicidal, and apparently benevolently-inspiring Ernest Hemingway.

Here are some of those misquotes: Continue reading “Six Things Hemingway Never Said”