There have been times when I have looked towards people who I admire and attempted to incorporate a certain aspect of theirs into my own life. This is particularly easier in recent years with the vast reach of the internet which allows us to locate more people online that appeal to us. We look up to those people who are seemingly living the lives that we desire, or covet above our own.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness – Oscar Wilde
A part of me loves that we are able to locate people and lifestyles like this with a click of a button. During my childhood, I struggled a lot with feeling different and misunderstood. I didn’t think there were any people out there who liked the same things as me, so for a while I tried to conform to the people around me. I started watching the movies that my best friend at the time was into and mimicked the way she dressed and so on. Along the way I did develop a love for parts of it, but not in the same way she did. I still love her to bits and the fact that she dealt with me trying to be like her in the nicest way possible. It was a difficult moment for me but ultimately helped me.
I was still searching for myself. It has taken a really long time but I think I’m a little bit closer everyday. Little bursts of realization occur at random moments. Looking at old photographs or stumbling across new terms on websites have all sparked ideas.
I copied her because I didn’t know who I wanted to be yet, and she seemed like she had it figured out. This got me thinking about a lot. As people are growing, whether in art or in life, we learn by mimicking others. It’s human nature. Babies learn how to speak by copying their parents’ mouth movements and sounds. As we become more comfortable in a subject matter, we may try our own versions of it. That’s why there are so many YouTube tutorials about how to do everything from cooking pasta to editing photos to fixing a car.
Especially when people are finding themselves during adolescence, they may turn to others and idolize them and copy them. We don’t know who we want to be, but we don’t realize that everyone else is still figuring it out too. Some people appear to figure things out quicker than others, but we all have different journeys.
Copyright and Copycats
Recently I have heard about a case of an Influencer on YouTube who has been calling out various individuals for ‘copying her’ and not giving credit. I watched a few videos pertaining to the case and the aftermath of the behavior has been utterly disgusting. The YouTuber in question has publicly accused people and it resulted in her fans viciously bullying the accused online with various insults and threats.
Naturally people will want to be like their role models, and will sometimes imitate or unknowingly violate copyright in doing so.
I don’t think hatred and nastiness is by any means a way to deal with cases such as this. If you have copyright on an original idea or art piece, then by all means privately ask for credit or take legal action. But involving an entire fanbase and publicly shaming people is horrible and unethical.
Don’t Love Alone
I understand the mindset of wanting to be unique and being known for something, however that desire shouldn’t harm people. It’s much nicer to talk to people about the things you share a common love for, rather than claiming it as your own and loving it in solitude.
When my sister and I were growing up, I didn’t want her to want to be like me. I wanted us to be different, so that I could be ‘special’. I was also known as ‘Carmen’s sister’ by all of her friends. That upset me for a while. I wanted to be known as me, not by who my relatives are. Until I realised I was being silly. I am her sister and that is something I am proud of. I also want her to love the things I love so that I have someone to talk to about it. And I want to learn more about the things that she loves.
We fought a lot growing up, and it is something I regret immensely. Lately we have been able to bond more and become better friends and I am so grateful for it. She knows me better than most. She’s always been in my life (except the two years before she was born) and we share an upbringing and DNA. It makes sense that we have a fair amount in common, and that we can learn from one another too.
Unique or Unoriginal?
People today are constantly struggling between wanting to stand out and blend into the crowd. What makes us different is everything from our experiences to our hobbies, but we also revel in community and sameness.
Ultimately, we are moving towards a future where all sorts of differences are acknowledged and accepted. However, with the amount of humans on the planet, it’s highly unlikely that you will find a person who has absolutely nothing in common with any other human. Whether that’s their hair colour or their favourite band, we are one species and patterns are bound to occur.
So your cousin, best friend, neighbour or even someone on the other side of the world might share your interests, and that’s okay. They are allowed to love the same things that you do, and you clearly love it so why deny them of the same joy?
Eventually people will make their own decisions about who they are and what they want to love. If it seems like they’re ‘copying’ you along the way, cut them some slack. Being a human is hard sometimes and we don’t always like ourselves very much. If we need to be someone else for a little while along our journey, that’s okay too.
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