Be yourself – instead of – parroting

mariln monroe, parroting, copy and paste

Have a section of humanity stopped being creative? Or is it just that too many people are lazy and hence just copy others? Don’t they realize that they will not fool the people they are trying to impress?

What happened to creativity?

Can’t help wondering why so many people on social media are just parroting others? Copying and pasting. And what’s worse that seems to account for part of what’s called creativity today. Only ignorant people will buy what the parrots are doing. If you don’t have anything new to contribute, to say a discussion, don’t just re-write what someone else has already said. Coping and pasting from say, Harvard Business Review to make you look intellectual is not a great idea either. What’s wrong with saying that you agree or disagree?

marilyn monroe, parroting, social media, copy and paste
The real Marilyn Monroe, featured here, was far more beautiul than the copy above. Marilyn Monroe will always be remembered unlike the women trying to look like her.

Original ideas

If imitating others were just a social media phenomena it would be one thing. But unfortunately you have an abundance of people selling services online that haven’t got any ideas of their own. They just copy what others have done and charge for doing so. And we should not forget the copy and paste that’s becoming a problem in academia. A prominent European policician was caught having copied and pasted into his thesis.

But a copy is never as good as the original. No parroting in the world will change that. It may work short term but long term it will work against you. The European politician is a good example. He had to step down. Doubt that his future is as bright as it would have been if he hadn’t copied and pasted. Am sure he regrets what he did. But sincerely he should have thought through what he was doing before cheateing. Can’t help wondering if parrots, like him, have really stopped thinking for themselves?

One article I wrote was copied and pasted by a US woman who calls herself an expert on corporate communications. She has her own company and can be hired as a consultant. Sad that she has to steal content for her web site isn’t it?

Hard sell on social media

The amount of parroting on social media most likely boils down to people believing they have to sell themselves aggressively online. Can understand that to some degree. But don’t they understand that it’s obvious to others what they are doing? Am active on social media and almost every day someone re-writes what someone has already written to make it appear to be their new idea. One interesting phenomena are the people who are experts on all issues relating to all countries in the world, regardless of the fact that they have never even visited the countries in question. But copying and pasting they certainly know how to do. Nobody, including myself, knows everything so what’s the point in pretending you do? People only lose respect for you.

Current buzz words leader, expert, entrepreneurial & innovative

The fact that many people believe they have to portray themselves in what they consider to be the right way is a major reason for all the parroting. Wouldn’t it be much better to have an honest look at yourself and decide what your strengths are? If you are not say, innovative, describing yourself so will work against you since you will be found out. Read in The New York Times that 70% of high school graduates in the US believe they have more than average leadership skills. Only 2% considered themselves below average. Truly wish their assessments were correct, but unfortunately 70% of them are not leaders and will never be leading anything. If this applied to the United States only, i.e. approximately 5% of the world’s population, it wouldn’t be too bad. But unfortunately it applies to the remaining 95% of mankind as well.

Use social media to portray the real you

What’s wrong with having talents that are currently not in fashion? Whatever talents you have you can create a lucrative niche for yourself. Why does everyone feel they have to portray themselves as business tycoons? Looking at profiles on social media today you easily get the impression that the majority of people in this world are on par with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. It’s normal for children to imitate, but grown ups really should give up that habit.

Social media is a wonderful thing and I have met many fantastic people online, mainly thanks to my blog and Linkedin. If the parrots were just themselves and stopped pretending to be what they are not they would also start reaping positive benefits of social media. To start with they would gain respect. We are all unique and can contribute to society in different ways. That’s the beauty of humanity. Imagine how boring it would be if we were all parroting each other.

Picture: (top) Jim H. + Rokr Raterson

130 thoughts on “Be yourself – instead of – parroting

  1. Hi Catarina,

    Well done, excellent article, reminds me of the Hans Christian Andersen's fable "The Emperor’s New Clothes". Where the Emperor’s appearance is more important that the idiotic situation where he is fooled to walk naked in front of his subjects, showing clearly his inability to rule (metaphor for managing) and only one innocent child’s remark that brings the kingdom back down to normality “the Emperor is not wearing any clothes”.

    I guess by the slow responses/comments to your article a few people are soul searching like myself, reflecting whether we are victims or perpetrator of falling into the social trap of lacking creativity, we should sit up and be accountable.

    Again thanks for this and the others I have read, most enjoyable.

    Take care,
    Ruadhri Guilfoyle (a person who is creative but has lost his way from time to time!)

  2. Hi Catarina,

    Thanks for this post.

    The problem you describe has in it a singular quality that people tend to “loose” – attribution – If so and so said it; give him/her the credit.

    Funny thing is; people can actually tell original content from stuff you get somewhere else, because they can see that the linguistic style changes, specific word selection and other telling signs are pretty obvious.

    I re-tweet A LOT but I only re-tweet the things I think is worthy of re-tweeting. That makes my service offering to my followers worth it, as I apply myself to removing the junk (my perception).

    Quote that was posted by someone I follow on twitter – "Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." – Abraham Lincoln (@vincentbass)

    Hope you have a happy day…
    Anton van den Berg

  3. It's an electronic case of "keeping up with the Joneses" – people online trying to boost themselves in the eyes of others, I'm afraid. Sad, but true…

    1. Definitely Guy.

      But they are making a mistake because they will not live up to what they claim to be. Would be much better if they were just themselves. People would resptect them and they would get positive results from social media.

  4. Emdadul, it's not about following others but for instance pretending that you are someone you are not and taking credit for someone else's idea.. That's going on a lot on social media. Or online, for that matter.

    Imagine if your articles are just copied and pasted into another site and someone else taking credit for them? Would you call that following you?

  5. Catarina, you hit the nail on the head here. Lack of creativity shows a lack of genuine interest and definitely does not help speak to your credibility. Great post! Will be RTing!

    1. Glad you agree with me Chrissy. The good thing is that the parrots will not succeed in the long run. Glad you are not a parrot and just re-wrote a section of my article and pretended it was a comment, by the way:))

  6. Catarina, you raise excellent points.

    I recently saw an interview with Simon Cowell (formally of the reality show American Idol and currently on Britains Got Talent?) He spoke of a young singer. Cowell told the guy that he'd probably "make it big" in about 20 years. Though Cowell was being sincere, the young lad couldn't stomach the answer. Simon commented that the boy was expecting results in about 6 months. Clearly that isn't realistic.

    You point out "lazy". That is one reason we have parroting. Another is simply impatience and or blatant unwillingness to put in your dues. Like the young one I mention above, everyone wants overnight success and will go to any length to get it. It is sad.

    One area where I might disagree is that some topics are so common (within social media or even my niche in parent coaching) that it is all a blogger can do to re-invent the wheel with some twist. Hopefully that twist comes from inner passion and experience.

    great post!

    1. Great comment Keyuri.

      Agree with you that some topics are so common you have to come up with a new twist. Not just copy and paste what someone else has already written.

  7. The world is in serious danger of losing creativity and innovation. This is all because the focus now is on instant gratification. How many persons are willing to stand up and put forward their views or ideas and defend them if they are not popular? Trying to blend in and be accepted is not the route to go. Think of inventers of the past who put forward their inventions but did not get instant acclaim. Some of the inventions were ahead of their time, but consider where we would be now if they gave up and tried to blend in, we would not be enjoying many of our modern conveniences. I say to each one, be yourself and let all views contend.

  8. Hi Catarina,

    I think part of the problem is that some want to be liked by others and not rock the boat with original thought.

    I must admit I do have a bit of a laugh when someone says what others say and call themselves marketing experts without any life or business experience. if you ask them a question they get defensive.

    1. Good comment Susan. The defensive part is another aspect of it that's bad. Wish that people would portray their real selves. Everybody has something good to contribute. To pretend they are something they are not will only work with people who don't know better.

  9. Very good observations Catrina.
    I would like to add my impression, that quite a few people try to use social media, blogging in particular, for "quick bucks" only or 15 minutes of fame.
    I do not know how blogging works, I have wage idea that has to do with creating traffic, and can only imagine that not so talented and not -have -much-to-say will in that case use every mean possible , copy cat, parroting, you name it, to reach their goal.
    We live in instant (soup )world , and writing is taking consequences of it , as well.

    1. Glad you agree with me Mirjana.

      The "bloggers" you are referring to I believe are the ones that create posts on social media and get paid for how many people click into their post? As a result you can see several people posting say, "Top Marketing Mistakes" from the same blog after one another.

  10. It seems in these times we hear it is a marketable thing to "mirror, channel, and model" ourselves after successful individuals. Anthony Robbins made millions on his first book telling people to "model" themselves after someone you admire or respect. Oprah gives away a car to all her audience members , now every talk show host gives something away. The sad part about this numbing cookie cutter mentality is that it has created a Stepford Wives complexion that spans all industries. They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I disagree with that train of thought when you imitate the current flavour of the month. Good article and observations, C.

    1. Glad you agree with me GWR.

      By the way, you can aim to be as good as say, Warren Buffet, at what he's doing. But you can't copy and paste statements he made in an interview and claim they are your ideas.

          1. LOL. Very good C. Julius was always a great verb man. :). If you get a moment ,feel free to connect to my LINKEDIN.

          2. Julius Caesar sure wasn't parroting. If he had been, he wouldn't have gone down in history as one of the most important and influencial people ever.

            Just send me an invitation to connect and I will accept. Please click group and then a group we both belong to since I get at least 50 invitations a week and decline people who state we are friends, work together or something like that because they usually are spammers blocked by Linkedin.

          3. What are the main ingredients or attributes that make some one a great influence on the masses?That might make a thought provoking and interesting topic for your next writing.

            Much to my chagrin I am unable to present an invitation to you due to the fact your network requests an email and their is no group link. Which is odd because we both are in the White House and Writer Mafia groups . Maybe it is due to the 50 invitations you receive on a weekly bases.Popular lady (hehe). I shall now scurry and cry like a little girl 🙂 …now I'm joking.

  11. Good for you Diana. Don't start parotting because it will work against you.

    Do google Be yourself – instead of – parroting and you will get several pages of results outlining how the article was syndicated by Forbes, Social Media Today and several other sites the minute I published it. All I did was post it online. That really is an indication of what people think of the parrots. Hopefully it will have an impact on the parrots and make them think before copying and pasting. They probably haven't realized that people are tired of what they are doing.

  12. Hi Catarina,
    I agree and have often wondered why that is? I remember responding to a question on LinkedIn about the Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola law suit because of alleged similar packaging adopted by Pepsi- Cola from the Coca Cola brand……….. My initial thought was how a huge organisation can copy another instead of being original and creative with their packaging. But as we all know and may have seen in Super markets nowadays, they use similar packaging as established brands to confuse consumers. Also, everyone seems to be doing the same things and because I tend and like to be unique and different, I veer away from what others are doing or saying except if it is correct and factual. But I have seen so many people, rushing around and doing the same things. Even questions are often repeated and I have brought it to other’s attention. It's boring, smacks of indolence and lack of originality.

  13. Agree with you completely Michael. Great points. The imitators will one day wake up and realize that they have wasted the opportunites they had. And then it will be more difficult for them to stand out from the crowd because search engines remember everything for a long time.

  14. Catarina,
    Parroting is annoying. It's one thing to approach a topic that's been discussed before as long as you bring your own unique spin to it but to just regurgitate what's already been said is a waste of everyone's time. Sometimes, I think it comes down to quantity vs quality. Every article you write is original and is clearly your point of view and the amount of pride you take in your writing comes across. The parrots will eventually fade away.

    1. Thanks Sherryl. They will fade away, actually become persona non grata, when everybody's using the new kind of software that shows exactly what a person is doing on social media and online.

  15. Hi Catarina,
    Did you ever play the children's game where all the children sit in a circle and one child whispers a message to the child beside her and that child whispers the same message to the child beside him…at the end of the circle the last child states the message and then the first child states the message. There is always a huge difference. This is what happens when people parrot and don't think for themselves. Not only does the message get watered down – it becomes a different message – an unintended message.

    1. Agree with you Catherine. But unlike in the game the parrots are causing problems online. Would you for instance like it if someone copied and pasted an article you had written and posted it on their site pretending they had written it? Taking legal actions would be easier said than done, and very expensive, if the parrot was on the other side of the world.

  16. Catarina:

    It is amazing on Twitter to see the same post go round and round. People then congratulate themselves on being on top of the latest and greatest. In reality, they are parroting as you point out. There are new ideas everyday but many people just want to share what a few "thought leaders" have to say. As you point out we are online to share our thoughts. We can comment on what others do and offer a pro or con point of view.

    My recent post Product Development- 9 Critical Lessons Learned

    1. Yes Rob it's amazing how much parroting there is, isn't it. And the worst is when they take credit for someone else's ideas, which happens frequently. Anyway, they only impress people who don't understand what they are doing.

  17. Greetings Catarina:
    We live in a Pret-A-Porter world. Most persons eat at fast food gigs, can instantly connect with family and friends (and others), and get most of life's amenities without much investment in time and effort. This in turn has created a couple of generations of lazy people.
    Societies are divided by those who innovate and know and those who follow blindly. Information, real information; the kind that has been derived at via scientific observation and hypotheses takes time and insight that the majority of our societal co-habitants do not like to employ and are not willing to do so. Thus, as you point out, the end result is a radiograph of the precepts that led us here – A few will lead the masses…
    Following Darwinism, those adept to handle change will do so and in that respect will possibly innovate new things along the way. Those stuck in the habits of copying and pasting without creating or building on the ideas of others will eventually weed themselves out of the game and life itself.
    I see no problem with sharing great ideas as their permeation throughout a society will undoubtedly reap more benefits and greater penetration but as a rule, those who perform that service should give credit to those who created them.

    1. Jean, naturally agree with you that the few will lead the many and it's always been like that.

      But that doesn't excuse the parroing going on online. Glad you wrote at the end that those who copy and paste "should give credit".

      Anyway, sooner or later there will be jurisdiction for online behaviour and then people have to stop parroting. If not, they will end up in court.

  18. Hi Caterina,
    I've just been made redundant from a senior charity comms job. The job has been given to a junior, as a promotion, and he is delivering a comms plan based on social media. I've been dipping in to their twitter feed and website and it's not bad, but there is a significant amount of retweeting rather than sharing their own ideas/policy positions. I appreciate that in a busy world having an organisation that creates a network – and shares the intelligence – is really important to those working in that field. But where are the knowledge makers and opinion formers? In the minority it seems. If this is the case, can a social media strategy ever stand alone? I have a love/hate relationship with social media for this reason – individual and corporate parroting are a poor excuse for moving thinking forward, and this is often done best face to face.

    1. Sian, I agree with you. For some reason social media is mainly parroting. Wonder where creativity has gone? Why do the majority of companies and people feel they have to do only what everybody else is doing? To the extent that they don't even realize they are parroting. On top of it it's also boring.

  19. Great to read some criticism and reliable writing about social media once, I'm tired just reading and hearing all the hype around it. So thank you for fresh post.
    My recent post Liikelahjojen synty – Mistä kaikki sai alkunsa?

  20. A very interesting post. Parroting each other can also be dangerous, there would be no innovation. Further parroting can have another dimension, it would lead to herd think' which would also lead to the collapse of organisations. Imagine, in a board meeting, if everyone just parroted the leader's views, there was no dissent…… disastrous. Really liked this post.
    My recent post Take a Chance

    1. Thank you Lubna. Unfortunately parroting is what the majority of people do on social media – and not only there but in reality as well. It's an easy way of "doing" something. In schools it's a major problem.

  21. I do get your point. I believe the reason many do that (copy and past) is beacuse they feel the pressure to look or be perceived a certain way or they will not be accepted. That would include job hunting, acceptance to a certain group or club etc.

    Portraying ourselves in an authentic way is hard work and carries with it a certain risk. I believe that risk is worth the reward of meeting like minded, authentic people such as yourself.

    The other more disturbing reason for coping and pasting an item is, out and out plagiarism. It is the quickest way, ie dishonest, to finish a report or written work. It is often mistaken for research. Researching a subject means to acquire information from various sources then interpret it into your words, beliefs and concepts. That interpretation my include a phrase or two that may appear the same but are not a wholesale copying and pasting someone else's hard work. Just my thoughts. 🙂
    My recent post Trip To France: Mouton Cadet Bordeaux 2009: Wine

    1. Glad we agree Susan.

      Academia are having huge problems with the copy-paste phenomena. But with the online resources the ones doing so are caught. And then disgraced.

      It's true that people sometimes parrot others to be accepted. And fear is another factor. But have you noticed that parrots often are agressive as well? Presumably that's because they cannot defend "their opinion". They seem to think the best way is to slander others to look good in front of others.

  22. So true, so true!! I am often befuddled by all the "experts" that I see out there, especially in blogland. Sometimes I feel like, gee what do I have to offer in comparison, but at the same time, I know these people's profiles are blown out of proportion. Thanks for the reminder that it's great for all of us to be our unique selves and to be creative out of our unique selves.

    1. Exactly Bethany. And they know everything about everything by copying and pasting what others have written. Another version is people who always post a URL as a comment in a discussion. Not sure why they believe it makes them look intellectual. All it does is show they have no opinon of their own:-)

    1. Jeannette, am not sure I agree there's nothing new under the sun. Depends on how we define new. If people who died when telex was the way of communicating they would consider the internet a new phenomena.

      Apart from that glad we agree about the fact that people steal someone else's ideas online far too often.

  23. This a great post, every teenager should read it! They should read it, because they have the biggest chance to become a parrot. They all should know, without creativity they couldn't be succesful, and parrotin someone may kill creativity!
    My recent post Stay healthy, stay fit! Summer tips

  24. Thank you Pat. Good points you make.

    Laziness and group think definitely are part of this scenario. But who's going to believe that a 20 year old is an expert on sales or international relations. Naturally they have knowledge but still haven't got the experience that make a difference.

    My grandmother apparently used to say that it's the result that counts, not how long it has taken. And she's right. Not least on social media since search engines record everything and forget nothing. That's worth remembering when it comes to fast versus doing something innovative and creative.

  25. Hi Catarina,

    With so much information available, one's actual information forms just a wee bit part of the whole package. Also, one wants to have recognition of fellow associates for their own morale. Don't we all want to identify ourselves with a brand whereas the same thing may be available much cheaper at a local shop & probably, lasts the same!
    Like with clothes & food, same with opinions and content. Of course, learning stops or reduces.
    The whole problem with information explosion is that the discipline of garnering information is lost. One picks up from what the other has learnt and moves ahead from that point onward. It is the bane of this "intellectual" world. We have people with little self acquired knowledge & so many who have acquired it Virtually.
    Why criticise a person who has simply copied and pasted something when we use readymade milk, ready to eat food & ready to wear clothes. Similarly, we have ready to give opinions and ready to have information.

    Taral Vaidya

    1. Interesting way of looking at it, Taral. Don’t you think it would be a good idea for people who copy and paste to just quote where the information comes from? That way they are fine. It’s when they pretend it’s their opinion they get into trouble.

      By the way, I have never come across someone in ready to wear clothes that tried to give the impression they had designedand manufactured them. Or people who bought food in a supermarket and claimed they were homegrown and/or homemade. Have you?

  26. I am so glad you wrote this post. It expresses my feelings perfectly. It really is tiring having to sift through all the parrots to find someone/something original.

  27. You know, I have been asking myself that question as well. Not in the context of social media, but more on blogs, specifically the ones here in the Philippines. In which case, I think they are trying to bank on the notion that "hey, this blogger has reached such and such results…if I do the same thing, and create a blog in the same manner, I might end up experiencing the same results." That may also be the case when it comes to social media.

    I agree that niches are so saturated right now that finding a fresh angle seems difficult, but as I continued on blogging, I start to see so many potential angles that haven't been tapped yet. Yes, it may not be something they are used to, but at least I can confidently say that my blog is no parrot.
    My recent post Common Restaurant Styles in the Philippines

    1. Hopefully the parrots of this world will face more and more obstacles online. One day there will be law and order on the internet and, if not before, it will be more difficult for them to just steal other people's ideas.

      By the way, most likely the Filipino bloggers you are talking about are the ones that are into MLM or network marketing.

      1. Oh, I certainly hope so, Catarina! Nothing can be so frustrating and irritating creating a good quality content on your blog only to find someone posting and claiming it to be their own.

        My recent post Casa Roces: A Celebration of Filipino Food and Heritage

  28. Imitation is not in the Internet only. Its in business also, for example.

    India copied from Switzerland some of the medical equations to sell the cure by cheap price. Egypt copied some american movies's stories to re-produce it middle east . GCC Countries copied technology & information from US and Europ by legal way after paid the purchase costs.
    copyright is not enough to protect the creatives from Imitators .

    1. Exactly Mohammed. Plagiarism is a problem in all areas of life. Have for instance a real Louis Vuitton bag and everywhere on streets you see, above all Asians, with fake ones.

      However, when you copy someone on the internet you are broadcasting to millions of people what you are doing. So a person who wants to ruin his/her reputation does a fantastic job when they show their dishonesty online. How can you trust someone with big things when they even lie about small things?

  29. Catarin, you are correct. Parroting is a problem. Now we can see many articles by different people about how be seen on social media. Mostly, they are saying/copying the same things. It is easy to be copying than creating. I remember seeing an article about copying paragraphs from a website article and pasting it on the Facebook page, to give the impression of the "Expert". Some people use the yahoo answers to promote their websites and blogs.
    Is this an age of "cutting and pasting"?
    My recent post A Story By Nadiyah Hussain

  30. Hi Catarina,

    This was an intresting post i would like to comment the untouched part of the discussion ‘Creativity’ , because lack of creativity has lead to parroting not only in social media but in evry sphere , business academics n evrywhr just because the world around you is so much result oriented that people cannot afford to be experimental and original . Today mass is much concerned about whats in and whats out , they are least concerned about the vital part of being human,” what is right and whats wrong ” this is the basic practice that the common mass is following evrywhere, because people find it easy to follow what they find is successfull around them , wthr its about business, social media or somewhere else , Because people today have very deep feeling tht , ‘Nobody remembers the second person who landed on moon. ‘ Thats why people dont afford to be creative today resulting in promoting parroting .

    1. Anurag, do you really think there is any defence for claiming other people's ideas as your own? Besides, it will lead to disaster in the long run since they will be found out and disgraced. That way of trying to succeed is not going to work.

      As I mentioned academia is another area. How many people have for instance bought their MBA's? an abundance, unfortunately. Have you ever thought about the fact truly successful people are the ones that are truly innovative, experiment and passionately work to make their idea succeed?

  31. Social media lives a childish period. Most people who walk into it just pop in, without even noticing its effects. Imitation- I think – in a way is a consequence of this "free entrance".
    Besides, the good side of parroting is sharing bulk of ideas, news and information which might be useful for someone else.
    In this early stage we will probably have to put up with parroting/gossip/non innovation for some years to come, but Social Media will develop, grow up and parrots will fly away some day.

    1. Good points, Lincoln. But do you really think it's OK for people to post a comment that consists of a cut and paste of part of an article from, say, Harvard Business Review? It would be fine if the mentioned the source. But when they give the impression it's their idea it's plagiarism.

  32. You are spot on Catarina and this is why I Love creativity and innovation. It is what we do when expressing our inner voice. It can be influenced from someone or something else but not copying . But as you say parroting is what most people do without feeling ashamed and they can continue as long as people buy it. I am thinking of the flies who like "shit" and a saying that it cannot be wrong since so many likes it.

    The nature of creativity is also that the more creative and innovative we are the more resistance we get since it goes against the known. Most people don't like to be questioned either since they take it personal. I was involved in some very interesting discussions about idea generation and innovation when working at IBM.

    One woman came up with an idea that the creator and the event or meeting should be tracked from the first conversation when the idea was expressed. I thought it was a great idea and we discussed about using a simple tool with a quick link to track it back to the source and who was involved in contributing. There are many meetings which is great for idea generation but most of the leaders who inspires and fight for having open creative meetings without a strict business agenda are seldom getting feedback on their impact in the organisations. The reason is that most of those informal meetings are not taken notes and action points from and the people are usually hesitating to go beyond their comfort zones. Their ideas are in best case popping again and in another forum or by someone who is "stealing" it.

    Thanks your article inspired me to contact my former IBM colleague 😀
    My recent post Social media measurement tools Klout Kred and Naymz

    1. Glad you like my article and agree with me, Christer. Don't forget that huge corporations are often stifling innovation. And all over the world I have come across executives who take credit for other people's ideas. But it's becoming more and more difficult to do so online, because of software for catching plagiarism are getting better and better.

  33. Creativity is a beautiful thing. Parroting is not. It is pathetic when people copy others and then pass it off as their own expertise. Only be showing your individual self will you be able to hold your head high and know that you have taken the time to share your ideas and suggestions. Whether or not most people agree with you.

  34. There's little creativity online, in business and – in Hollywood USA. It's the same over and over again in so many cases. Thanks for this laugh – "Looking at profiles on social media today you easily get the impression that the majority of people in this world are on par with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates." You know, I've always wondered about this! Thanks Catarina.
    My recent post How Can We Make Life Less To Do About Performance?

  35. You are right…this isn't a new thing but it has become ubiquitous with social media in the forefront. I think I had a post a few weeks back about how so many people are making judgement and spouting what they think are facts when it's somebody else's feed that they are parroting. Some of it is pressure…that we think we have to know everything, and the other side is people who are too lazy to research a topic and find out the facts. Very good post!
    My recent post Hope…Where’s The Justice?

    1. Thanks, Jacqueline. I actually wrote this article in 2010 but it's timeless. unfortunately. Would like to dedicate it to my late online friend John Scheifele who was really tired of all the parrots. Agree with you that pressure, thinking we have to know all and laziness are good explaniations. But in some cases it's dishonesty. They think that pretending to be someone they are not will benefit them in all kinds of ways. Another aspect of the parroting that's really boring is that we constantly come across articles written on the same subjects. How to use Linkedin, comes to mind:-)

  36. Interesting post. Parroting is a bit of a "jump on the bandwagon" thing that the Internet has made so much easier to do. It may be the result of a need to belong or be validated or not recognizing the worth of one's own ideas. Plagiarism is more sinister and a deliberate attempt to deceive.
    My recent post Bucket Lists

    1. Donna, many of the parrots are into plagiarism, unfortunately. And even worse when it comes to everything. Do you for instance realise how many people have bought their MBA's? Used to get e-mails from Indian universities when I lived in the Middle East offering me MBA's for about $500.

  37. Catarina, Kurt Vonnegut has a quote, "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."

    I wonder if the parrots are desperately hoping that if they fake it long enough they will become as creative, innovative or as insightful as the people they are copying. It's an interesting theory, but when you are sitting across from your client and you don't have a clue how to deliver on the work they need… what then? I optimistically think that sooner or later the parrots will copy their way into a very tight and uncomfortable corner. 🙂
    My recent post Old Trucks and Nostalgia

  38. I have no problem with someone who retweets or shares a link of information. But that type of sharing should only be a supplement to whatever original content the person is adding to his or her account. And making it look as though it was their thought is like intellectual plagiarism. I guess social media has just made it too easy to do this.

  39. I recently encountered this. Someone sent me "A sample" of what they had written and are thinking of publishing it too… When I read it I was taken a back, then I thought maybe it was just me but I read it aloud to my husband and he was surprised too. It was word for word in most parts!
    This was felt strange because it was the first time it has happened to me. I didn't know whether it was to be taken as a compliment… But it is straight up plagiarism. Normally, I would go to them and say "What the hell do you think you're doing?" but this person is a Domestic Violence survivor and is shaky already…
    Re-tweets are fine with me and I've found useful in many ways, along with Facebook, it helps to get messages out there… But plagiarism is a whole new bag for me!

    1. It's mindboggling how people cheat online. Or maybe we should call it what it is – fraud. And they think it's ok. Maybe because it's so easy? If anyone else copies and pastes my articles again I'm going to report them to Google.

  40. Hi Catarina – this is another one of your thought-provoking posts, which I love. I had no idea about all this cut and paste stuff happening on social media. I thought that would be illegal, unless the original person is credited for the information. Everyday I find there is more to learn and more to guard against. I am sorry though that someone hijacked your information – wonder what will happen if she needs to back it up?
    My recent post MICROGREENS: Superfoods You Grow Indoors

    1. There is no law that regulates cyber space, Lenie. So people fake it and deceivea lot. Another boring aspect of it is that a lot of people blog about the same issues. Maybe that applies more than anything to blogs about social media, blogging and that whole niche. It gets really boring to read posts about the same issues over and over again. How to use Linkedin, for instance:-)

  41. I agree so much about what you said about creativity. It seems like there is nothing new today. The music is a remix or remade, movies are remade or are just a movie version of a tv show, or worse yet a video game. We have NEW technology, but it seems like with this technology we have lost some of the creativity we had in the past.
    I hope people will become more creative, and take more chances.

    1. There's plenty that's new today, William. The problem is that far too many people are lazy and copy others. Just look at the amount of blogs about blogging and social media. Most of them write about the same topics over. Am really tired about seeing yet another article published about, say, how to get the best out of a self hosted WordPress site. There are thousands of such articles written already.

  42. Completely agree with the copy and paste troops out there that find an article and regurgitate it everywhere else. When I am researching something it amazes me how often I will read the same information; and not just the same ideas or solutions but the exact same phrasing. I agree that a certain amount of creativity has been diluted.

    1. Glad you agree with me, Time. Same ideas and solution is one thing. But when they use the same phrases I find it unbelievable. In a way what's even worse is how they fake their profiles on social media. When I lived in the Middle East I used to get emails from Indian universities offering to sell me MBAs. There are a lot of those around. Whenever someone uses MBA after their name I wonder:-)

      1. Yes, the degree fakers. I had those offers many times, even in the US…but that was several years ago. I think the market in the US has dried up for that.

        1. Tim, neither of us are American and world-wide there are a lot of people with fake degrees. Some of the Indian universities that sell them apparently confirm that the person has the degree if someone checks.

  43. In his essay “Corn-Pone Opinions” Mark Twain discusses how unique thought doesn’t really exist, and I think that has been compounded in the digital age. Everyone’s trying to earnestly to look at what spin they can give to something they forget to embrace who they are and let others see what makes them unique (or as unique as one can be…). We spend so much time trying to align ourselves to the masses while not even knowing that’s what we’re doing. It’s the herd mentality.

      1. Am reminded how time consuming it is to create original content that reflects one’s uniqueness. I spend a good deal of time curating content to post that is related to my services and that I feel potential clients will find useful. Social media has definitely changed the landscape of how we portray ourselves in business and also personally. I don’t like the feeling of thinking about how I will describe something in a status update, but that’s the world we live in now. Uniqueness does exist, but it’s pretty rare. Plus, luck does pay its part in viral content.

        1. Absolutely, Jeri, but that doesn't excuse coping and pasting from say, The New York Times and pretending you wrote it. Or cheating on exams by copying and pasting from say thesises already written. As you know that's common. When you write someone else's words all you have to do is give them credit.

  44. I absolutely agree!! The more we use social media to portray the real you (or us), the more original, thoughtful and valuable content there will be for everyone! Not only that, but how much more FUN would it be to use social platforms for just that: FUN? People respond to things that feel good, are original and interesting. Why not give them that creativity?! Let THAT speak for us.

    I don't honestly believe it's possible to have an original thought at this point in history but I DO believe we all have our own original and unique ways of interpreting, experiencing and expressing those ideas and THAT is what makes my online (as well as real life) relationships worthwhile.
    My recent post What You Should Put in a Newsletter that Doesn’t Suck (And What Not To)

  45. How true this is. I often wonder if these so called experts are hoping against hope that they will be noticed. the funny part is, they don't realized how foolish they look when people realize they have plagiarized or copied someone else work or creation. I've actually had that happen to me… long story. It's my thought, or belief, that they simply don't know what else to do and do it anyway, knowing the risks… sigh!
    My recent post Milk Can Lesson: #Story

  46. It takes courage to invent something new, that and time to sit down and really think about it. We’ve become too impatient to do that? Too lazy? Too scared of ridicule?
    Copy-paste, that’s easy.

    1. Interesting way of looking at invention, Eve. For people with an entrepreneurial mind, innovation is natural, but then again so is courage. The fact that most human beings don't have an entrepreneurial mind is another issue. But parroting is simply dishonest and if people do that because they are impatient, scared of ridiculr or cowards they really need to see a shrink:-)

  47. Im sorry the woman you mentioned felt the need to steal your content to make herself look good. That’s pretty shameless and unfortunately much too frequent. I couldn’t agree more that what makes interacting with other people interesting is the fact that we are all unique and though we may agree on some topics, we may not agree on all of them.. and God knows we’ve all had different experiences… I love finding inspiration from what I read, see, and share with my peers but I’d hate to merely be a copy of someone else! Variety gives life flavor and sparks creativity.

  48. We are told that children learn by example. They will copy what their parents do and say. As adults our lives can also be enriched by the example of others. Is that copying?
    I believe a better word to discribe the copy/paste is plagiarism.
    Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "stealing and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" and the representation …
    Regardless of the label it is very sad to see adults incapable of original thought.

    1. Glad you agree with me it's sad to see adults incapable of original thought. Of course plagiarism is a better word when people steal ideas. But it doesn't always go that far.

  49. Catarina- I am sorry you hear that someone copied your information. I have had people actually download my site. There is a website Copyscape where you can check to see if someone has copied your site. There was a company in Malaysia that was copying my site. I just made changes to my site and eventually they stopped. There will always be people out there that copy because it is easier. Some things are out of our control. On the other side of this it is a form of flattery even though it is not one you want. So it says something about your writing.
    My recent post How the Ice Bucket Challenge Increases Awareness for ALS

    1. Yep, Arleen there will always be people out there who copy and paste. And sure, it's thumbs up for what we write. Glad you stopped the Malaysian company from copying from your site.

  50. I agree. I think it is laziness that makes people want to copy other's content. Sorry that happened to you. I had that happen a year or two ago and when I confronted the person over social media, she immediately took it down. It important that we express our own voice. We all have something to offer, we just need to figure out what that is. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  51. Catarina your simple yet, to the point writing inspires me. Also the point you raised is true, nowadays the art of copying is not just restricted to social media it has spread its wings far deep.

    1. Thank you, Sushmita. Started my career as a journalist and hence learnt that you have to write simple, stupid and short to the point in order to make the maority of readers to understand. Never use academic language because most people would not comprehend. When it comes to articles published online unless we write for, say, The New York Times, we need to keep the articles fairly short.

  52. I agree that we should bring our uniqueness to the table. Yes, there is a pressure to stay on top but there should be limits. I have read some amazing blogs but I would not dream of copying content.

  53. Sometimes I think it is not the individual that wants to be a "parrot" but the industry you are involved in. Even Marylyn Monroe was modeled to be like Rita Hayworth by the film industry.
    Success breeds copies, especially if you take advice from professionals. An example would be the number of remakes of movies. Their reasoning is to make money, and something that was successful before, will be successful again. In terms of social media, if one person is a success, their formula is copies by others. Unfortunately, the copy is usually just a shadow of the original.
    I hope more people do not take this advice, and be themselves instead of a copy. To do this, they might need to reject the advice of these "professionals" who do not care if you are original, just care about profits.
    Your advice should help others become themselves, thanks for enlightening them.

  54. Catarina, I agree with you in some ways. But I do love the tribute performers that keep the music of some of the greats alive. We have an "Elvis Fest" located in a community near where I live each year during which time Elvis impersonators come and perform different aspects of the King's music. It is such a hit, as people love Elvis Presley so much this is just a way to help keep his music alive.
    My recent post Choco-Story Museum at Uxmal

    1. That's one way of looking at the Marilyn illustration, Doreen. Can relate to what you are saying but it doesn't apply to pretending that someone else's idea is yours on social media or or coping and pasting it into a thesis you are writing.

  55. This definitely brings to mind the recent GOP National Convention, when Donald Trump's wife plagiarized Michelle Obama's amazing speech from a few years back. You would think they would know better and that people would recognize the wording was the same. What an embarrassment i think that would be to be caught parroting, or plagiarizing at such a high level event and on TV.

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