Be yourself – instead of – parroting

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.

A copy is never as good as the original. No parroting in the world will turn you into Marilyn Monroe. So be yourself.

What happened to creativity?

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 impress the people they are trying to impress? 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?

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.

Photo: mseckington – Flickr

116 comments to Be yourself – instead of – parroting

  • thetraveloguer  says:

    Wow, I can't believe someone copied your entire article, how cheeky! What did you do? It is very true about people all parroting, you do see the exact same articles again and again. It's disappointing. Great use of the 'Marilyn Monroe' image to illustrate this point!
    My recent post Monochrome Monday- Local Bus to Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Thank you, Christine. Glad you agree with me about how repetitive "creativity" has become.

  • kristygardner  says:

    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)

  • Susan P Cooper  says:

    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

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad, and not surprised, you agree with me, Susan.

  • Eve Koivula  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      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:-)

  • valerieremymilora  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Good points you make, Valerie. Pity far too many people all over the world are into parroting.

  • Simone  says:

    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.
    Per en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      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.

  • Arleen  says:

    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

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      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.

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