From Facebook comes the mystery. Someone has shared one of those little posterized quotes accompanied by a picture and attributed to some famous person. The quote is right in line with what you need for an upcoming presentation. You can attribute the great person, you have the remark, and you are faced with the mystery. Did this person really say that? And the second mystery, if I use it, even if it is a correct attribution, will the audience simply roll their eyes and think, "We've got Facebook too, buddy!"
Well, the other day I had a sermon to prepare and the Fred Rogers quote: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." was making the rounds.
So, how to determine first if it is real? I did what any twenty-first century speaker in a hurry would do (and what my prof in Christian Education recommended), I "Googled" it. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered The Fred Rogers Company: The Legacy Lives On: http://fredrogers.org/ and there was the quote, plus a beautiful video Fred made a year after he retired from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood about how to calm children's fears in a crisis. I have great respect for Mr. Rogers and his work ever since I heard an interview with him in which he said he tells his young viewers every day that he loves them, knowing full well that this might be the only time in the day some of these children would hear someone tell them they were loved. The man was brilliant.
On to the second question, will everyone have heard it? Well, I solved that by thinking about the fresh context in which I used the quote, which allowed it to be viewed through a different lens and under different circumstances. It worked. Some people nodded as I gave the familiar quote, but instead of rolling their eyes at a familiar turn of phrase they'd already seen, they nodded in appreciation to come across those well known words amidst this new work.
So, how do you handle this situation? Do you use quotes first seen on Facebook or not?
As a side note, I've found there are a great many reputable organizations now running Facebook pages and posting regularly, providing access to a great deal of material for future, attributable use.
For more on public speaking, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/04/public-presentations-via-ipad-two.html