The other day I was browsing through a couple of different websites when I stumbled upon this meme.
First off, the quote fits perfectly with our class. Anything involving Thoreau is almost always relevant to what we are talking about everyday. However, there is a whole other reason why this quote, and to be more precise this meme, stood out to me.
For a while I’ve heard various people say that “our” or “my” generation doesn’t have the focus or determination to read a book cover to cover. I’ve heard many people shake their heads in annoyance and mutter how all of the classics are going to waste, since the “kids these days” don’t have the patience to read “good” literature. So many people talk as if the era of the novel is coming to a swift end.
And, in a way, I can see where they are coming from. According to www.theamericanscholar.org, from 1970-2003 the number of men and women studying English literature in the United States of America has dropped from 7.6% to 3.9%, and that number continues to dwindle. The humanities in general are seeing its figures go down compared to the sciences and business.
However, the optimistic side of me has hope. Even though a number of people aren’t deciding to study literature (their loss!), that doesn’t necessarily mean that younger people aren’t being exposed to classic works or writers.
This is where “memes” come in. An Internet meme is, “is an idea, style or action which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the Internet, as with imitating the concept.” We’ve all seen them one way or another.
Yes, these are cute and funny. But some actually can give real insight and offer people true value. For example, the Thoreau one from earlier can actually teach people something about Thoreau’s writing style. If one had never heard of him before, but read that quote, they could possibly gather he loved nature, and used it a lot in his writings. And, maybe if they truly enjoyed the quote, then perhaps they’ll even do some research, and discover exactly who he is, and what he stood for.
Honestly, it’s a step in the right direction. And it shows that literature and writing isn’t “dead” and isn’t “going away.” It’s still alive and vital in many circles, and many unexpected ways. Who knows, perhaps one of these memes will actually inspire another to pick up a book by one of these authors.
One can always hope!