Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V

Do you remember when you were younger at school and there was a class quiz you’d put your pencil case in between you and the person sitting next to you to prevent them from copying you? Or maybe, attempt to cover your answers with your hand, feeling increasingly frustrated when you realise that – oh, you ran out of hand – and can’t use your other because that’s holding the pen that you’re writing answers to?

I’m sure we’ve all had this experience (or similar) when we were younger. I won’t beat around the bush – hands up straight in the air for me! I remember when someone found out that I was writing a story about a fairy, ice princess for an English class and they decided to do the same. I cried when their story received “story of the week” (and even got to be put on the wall of amazing stories) but mine didn’t.

And of course, my 7-year-old self completely forgot about the incident when my story was put on the wall of fame a week later.

Not sure what I'm doing here
Not sure what I’m doing here – and yes, I wear my Fitbit with my fancy dresses. I know, I’m obsessed. 😂

As time went on, I learnt the value of collaboration and working together. Things I made were better with other people’s opinions and comments (as long as they are constructive of course and not just, “Pauline, no.” which I’ve had in the past, from… academics)

I began to enjoy working in this way, sharing my ideas with others, sharing what I do and passing on what I know. Those who have been reading for a while would know this – I mean I literally share all my daily learnings and ideas on this blog and social media!

I moved away from keeping it all “a secret” with fear someone else would “steal my idea.” This newfound openness felt great.

Welcoming openness in my life is a value I have since been constantly practising every day; not just at a work or school setting but beyond that.

Until… it was not so great.

I believe in sharing to inspire.

I literally have a post title named that and endless posts with that core message. I feel happy when someone approaches me to tell me that they have started their own blog, started to learn how to code, started to realise the importance of health, that they are doing Hot Yoga now too, that spread my Gymshark-obsession on to them (you’re trapped, girl, trapped I tell you) or booked a trip to New York because my photos got them loving the hustle-and-bustle city life.

That influence is what I aim for, the impact of the few people I have now is motivating. I genuinely feel like I’m working towards my 8-year-old goal, which was to “make a positive impact on people” (this was also on my UCAS personal statement. Yes, I have been cheesy ever since.)

Now, I think it’s important to say that I do not think I invented any of the things I do. My whole message is “if I can do it, so can you!” Seeing others trying things that I go on about like meditation – I started seeing so many of you using Calm last year, my grin was hugeeeeee – makes me feel awesome.

Central Park
Central Park

Being influenced/inspired is a completely different game to blatant copying and pasting.

Copying and pasting, claiming something was “your idea” or is “your work” IS NOT being “inspired”. That is called plagiarism.

Back in my second year of University, I discovered two different people who had copied and pasted chunks of my LinkedIn profile on their own. I was upset because:

  1. I put in lots of effort: For those that know me well, I’m such a perfectionist. Especially the things I put out online. My LinkedIn profile was no exception. I rewrote my profile multiple times to get it to a point that I felt happy it represented who I was. That took immense effort so I didn’t appreciate people claiming it as their own because they did not spread a whole day rewriting it. No, they spent a good 2 seconds highlighting, right-clicking, copying and pasting.
  2. It’s my work: like, this was part of a bigger piece of work that was assessed and although I didn’t choose this LinkedIn component as part of the module, someone got marks for what I wrote.

Now with LinkedIn, there are so many people with similar backgrounds (from degree to societies joined) so it’s often difficult to write about things a different way but purely copying and pasting is and will always be wrong. Thankfully, I managed to openly talk to people I have found do this and everyone has been super understanding which is fantastic (if you know me well, you’d know I hate confrontation…)

This, along with various other examples in my life (like recently from copying my digital life up to the copying every word of my Instagram captions and tweets) taught me some huge lessons in life on how to deal with the inevitable human emotions – irritation, annoyance and sometimes even anger.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

In the past, I would roll my eyes at this because at the time, I didn’t care – they were copying my work and that wasn’t cool. They were automatically put on a mental list of people I disliked.

As most of you know, improving my awareness is something I’ve been doing religiously for the last year with meditation and mindfulness practice. These negative feelings associated with people stealing my work or imitating me hit me straight in the face once they arose.

This made me realise that holding onto these negative emotions isn’t fun – it feels constricting, exhausting and is just plain sucky.

So I decided to change the way I look at people copying me.

They’re not inherently bad people that liked to just steal things and take credit for it, they’re people that like my work.

They’re people who think what I’m doing is pretty cool (or at least not awful) and are motivated to do the same – isn’t that what I always wanted to do? Yes! It’s my motivation.

Shifting mindsets

Of course, I’m not saying let people off when they are clearly plagiarising your creative work – definitely have a conversation with them about it – but instead of letting anger blur your vision, look at it using different lenses. Lenses that are appreciative and grateful for them following your work and championing it, even if that is in the least expected form of support.

A few weeks ago, I was caught up in feelings of irritation and annoyance when I saw another pattern of Ctrl C and Ctrl V on my digital work and presence. I angrily went on a rant to Matt, who reminded me that things like this will always happen and is inevitable when you’re exceeding with things. People want to do and be the same!

He was right (not always, but this time, he was. 😆)

So now, when these feelings arise, I’m taking a step back to remember my purpose along with the core reason I started and haven’t stopped… which is ultimately:

…to spread those pawsitive vibes and inspiration like confetti to change the world, one heart at a time. 😉

TL:DR: After all, even with copied and pasted footprints, nobody can be more you, than you.

Now, isn’t that so freeing?

Mattline x New York '17
Mattline x New York ’17

16 responses to “Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V”

  1. Being inspired and doing something similar is totally different than copying others. I mean what’s the point of influencers (for example) if they can’t influence others to adopt some product or habit and it’s considered copying? It’s great that you changed your perspective! Keep doing you :).

    1. Truth. 👏🏼

      It’s taken a lot of positive self-talk to get me out of the mindset because it was genuinely draining me. Acceptance = Zen state which is always the goal 🧘🏻‍♀️

  2. Definitely agree that being inspired and blatant copying are two different things. I love documenting things I do, like when I make cosplays, because if it can help someone make the same cosplay, then that’s awesome! It’s also why I like writing blog entries with tips, like how I do photography. If it gives other people ideas and helps them improve, then I’m all for it, as long as they aren’t stealing my works and claiming it as theirs. Being inspired isn’t a bad thing if you can spin it in your own way!

    I think it’s good to take a positive mindset, but at the same time, I think it depends on the situation. For example, it’s becoming more and more common for people to copy other people’s works and then profit off of it. (Often happens with illustrations and written works.) At that point, it’s not a form a support. They literally took a money or job opportunity away from another person.

    Sorry, I think I took this in a different direction than your entry intended. It’s just a sore spot to see so many people’s works being taken advantage of when it comes to copying! I would be annoyed, too, if I were in your position and saw people copying my profile or my social media, but I think it’s good that you’re taking the high road on it all!

    1. You raised so many important points, Cat! I definitely agree. In that situation, I would still talk to them about how I feel and hopefully have a good conversation about it.

      Haha, I keep telling myself that it’s not going to benefit me if I stay annoyed. I have someone right now who is literally copying and pasting everything I’ve done in the past year onto their social media, it’s infuriating but I’ve decided to be very zen about it!

  3. This is a really impressively reflective post. I HATED group projects all the way through school because I’m also a perfectionist so I’d bust my butt on it, and there was inevitably one (or more) group members who would kick back and then take all the credit. GAH. But you’re so right, there’s really no point in stewing over those emotions. While straight up plagiarism isn’t cool in any form, imitation DOES mean that you’ve got something going on that inspires other. I do love that last quote! Thanks for the reminder to chill the f out sometimes :).

    Susie | http://milehighdreamers.com

  4. WELL. You know what they say – imitation is the best form of flattery! Keep doing you, Pawlean and life will be great for you ;D Karma will get tot them! Also, love that picture of you in the red dress ♥

    cabin twenty-four

    1. Thanks Eena, took multiple shots TBH. I was feeling myself, ngl. 😂

  5. Bad middle school and high school memories start to float back in my mind again when it comes to plagiarism… kind of.

    I’m always happy with group projects in classes because I get the chance to meet new people. What I don’t like about it is when the teacher groups us randomly, and even though it’s a good way to break the ice, somewhat, there will be others where they have you (in this case, me) do all of the work (from the words to the pictures) and then they do all the presenting. And guess who gets the higher individual grades— them. And what’s worse are grades given to an entire group, in which the rest of your team gets the same grade as you even though you’ve done pretty much all the “dirty work.” 😣

    Well, that was school. Today, especially in the tech field, collaboration and working together with other talents is the only way to achieve our goals. After all, we’re working on something that we want to exist in real life, not for a grade. It’s the same thing with your aim of inspiring others to do the same (but presenting them in a different approach, well that’s what I think anyway 😊). For example, with bloggers in general (especially non-niche bloggers), almost every blogger has a weekly themed column (or monthly or something similar). I wanted to have one myself but I also needed to be original and not sounding the same as all the other bloggers. I finally got one (At Home, though converted from a linkup) but I haven’t been diligent with that as of late. 😅

    And then recently, there’s Twitter LOL. I often just tweet about random things naturally without even expecting any results. After all, when you don’t tag anyone directly or you don’t use hashtags, it just basically means that tweet is for yourself. Lately, I’ve been found and being liked by certain celebrities (if you’ve read my past few entries you already know who I’m talking about lol), not just tweets about them but some of my tweets in general (somehow they still find me even if they don’t follow me or that I don’t tag them directly or use hashtags even) that I’m also starting to notice that some fans started to copy/paste some of my tweets and then tweet them as if they’re their own just so they can get noticed by these same celebs. I know they’re just tweets and they’re public and they’re pretty minor but they’re still your words, your thoughts, right on your Twitter account. That’s what the RT function is for. 😅

    1. It can be so annoying! I was inspired to write this post because I’ve seen the same – I’ve had people comment and say, “Oh I thought that was your post, Pauline.” because it was written how I usually “write things” haha. It’s irritating but at the end of the day, it shows you’re doing something right. 💖 Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, afterall!

  6. I can understand the annoyance and fear. I often feel like that with stuff I do. But I guess there’s always a chance of stuff like that happening. I think it’s great how you try to put a positive spin on it!

    1. Zen is the mood to be!

  7. This is such a thought provoking article and really touching the essential points! We hate plagiarism and we faced it several times, not only with our work but with the work of others and we always try to deal it in the most positive and fair way possible. We believe that every human being has good inside of them, so the opportunity to admit the mistake must be given 🙂 Thanks for sharing this wonderful words,

    Patricia & Miguel

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Patricia and Miguel! 💖

  8. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” –> Very true indeed. I used to get pissed off when people copy or “inspired” by my blog posts or any content that I have made. But these days, I’m just flattered when they do that. It means that I have done something positive that they want to be like me. Indeed, nobody can be more like you except yourself.

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