Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Take My Word for It

I was reading a popular blog a few days ago and was surprised to find out that several of her posts had been stolen by another blogger. We’re not talking about a similar turn of a phrase here. Nope. It was outright plagiarism down to the last word and idea. Only the names had been changed. Ick.

This got me thinking about bloggy plagiarism. I mean, most of us blog for ourselves as a creative outlet. Is there THAT much pressure to perform that someone needs to troll the Internet for someone else’s anecdotes on daily life?

I mean we’ve all seen renowned journalists throw away their careers under pressure to come up with the perfect story, the perfect quote, or the perfect source. We’ve seen military men pad their resumes and college presidents be exposed as frauds claiming to have degrees that they don’t.

But bloggers?

I would like to think that if blogging becomes so pressured for us to produce that we can’t even fashion posts about our own lives, with our own words, we would step back and evaluate whether we needed to refocus on living life instead of writing about it.

Later on that same day I was reading a post by a favorite new blogger when I saw that she mentioned hiding from her kids in her bathroom. She also remarked how after a hard day with her children, she was glad she wasn’t the subject of a Dateline special. I felt all weird inside.

These were my sentiments exactly! I’ve talked about this before-- how I spent a good portion of my kids’ toddlerhood holed up in my bathroom pounding a diet Pepsi and wishing away their childhoods.

And Dateline? How many times had I said this very thing? My next question was, would I ever be able to blog about these matters, or would I, too, be considered a plagiarizer? Why hadn’t I blogged about it BEFORE I read her blog?

Or, is the whole hiding in the bathroom thing a universal aspect of motherhood such as thinking soccer trophies are stupid or realizing that our kids can be annoying?

What about saggy boobs? If I refer to my breasts as looking like a marble in a tube sock will I be the only one? Lord, I hope not. And my fave new blog’s awesome blog title? Stretch Marks!!! I have stretch marks! Is that copying??

I must admit a crippling sense of responsibility in dealing with similar questions throughout my life. Upon first learning about plagiarism in grade school, my desire to cite all my sources bordered on the obsessive.

In fact, I remember worrying that if my writing sounded far too advanced, my teacher would not think it original. Not much of a risk there for my 9 year old self, but I was concerned.

I also recall writing a report on the giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands. In one of the school encyclopedias I found this priceless nugget: the giant tortoise would urinate on her own eggs. I remember being titillated by this fact and eager to include it in my endangered species report (are they still endangered?).

However, when the time came to put pen to paper, I couldn’t find the page number in any of the encyclopedias, so I reluctantly left the fact off my report. To this day I’ve wonder whether the whole urination thing was a figment of my imagination. Never mind, just Googled it—it’s true.

In case you don’t think I was odd enough as a child, this was about the same time of life that I saved all of my movie ticket stubs.


Nope. I wanted to have proof of my whereabouts should I, as the wayward child that I wasn’t, be accused of any heinous crime. “No, officer, I was not involved in that stick-up at the First American bank at 3:45 on Saturday; I was at the mall seeing ‘For the Love of Benji’ and I can PROVE it!”

But I digress. Some days I feel like blogging, so I do. Some days I’ve got nothing to say, so I don’t. Some days I probably shouldn’t blog, but I do anyway. Hello? A picture of the can of beans we ate for dinner last night? Sorry.

It would be easy to read the tippy-top blogs and feel insecure enough to want to be just like them. Maybe that’s what happened to the plagiarizer, whose blog, thank goodness, is no longer on the Internet.

I guess I just want to thank you for reading! Writing this blog is pure fun, and although I may lament not being as deep or as funny as some of my favorite bloggers, I don’t feel the need to be someone I’m not. Unless that person has perky breasts and no stretch marks, that is.


Ash said...

It always blows me away when I read a story about this (yes, I've come across multiple infractions) - it's the Internet people!! Not a random term paper.

(not that I've ever plagiarized a term paper. they can't take back your diploma, right?)

And I've been meaning to do a post about how soccer trophies are stupid. Cross that one off the list :-)

Off to check out your new favorite blogger...

Kate Coveny Hood said...

You are crazy! You are far more interesting to read than a lot of the "tippy top" blogs. Sometimes I feel like the most "popular" bloggers find a formula that really works for them (i.e. everyone loves it and emulates it), and then that's all they have to offer. Hilarious the first 25 times, but then it gets a little tired... And no one else seems to notice this (too busy sucking up in comments I think).

Anyway - I love your writing style and look forward to seeing what you come up with each time you post. Can of beans, saving movie ticket stubs for an alibi, husband/kid stories... It's all great!

jen said...

ah. blog angst.
happens to all of us, at one point.
sidenote ... i've found that if someone's idea reminds me of something that i want to write about ... i think it's ok to comment in their post that it reminded you of something that you might write about and ask if you can give them recognition for giving you the idea if you write about it. (just don't steal the content... obviously!)

Madge said...

i don't get the blog plagiarism at all. it's my outlet, why would i want to vent or commiserate using someone elses words?

Christy said...

I think that some of those uber popular blogs are BORING. With a capital B. Yours - hysterical. Kate's - hysterical. Mine - I love it. That's what matters, right?

I so can't imagine plagiarizing a blog post. I'm the girl who returns to the store if I notice a can of beans rolled under my daughters car seat in the grocery cart just in case the security cameras caught me and tried to get me the next time I visit the store. I'm way too scared of 'them' to do anything remotely illegal.

anymommy said...

I worry about this too. I read so many blogs, I always wonder what's going on in my head, am I coming up with original thoughts or do I just think I do, when actually, I've read the idea elsewhere. But then again, so many of our experiences are so similar.

Overall, I think (I hope) if we are all writing from our hearts and heads, without the use of cut and paste, we are doing just fine!

Rebecca said...

Blogging is such an intensely personal thing for me that I can't even fathom taking someone else's words.

But writing about the same thing? I think that's totally fine as long as it's your own words and thoughts on that topic.

I don't read that many blogs but I tend to gravitate towards certain blogs just because of blog chemistry, some are somewhat popular some are not popular at all. It doesn't make any difference to me as long as their words make me feel something.

Chrisy said...

I don't understand "bloggy plagerism" either.

Your blog is perfect just the way it is! I think we all feel reminded/inspired by someone else's words, and like you pointed out, they are usually common experiences. I also think we all feel (at least I do) intimidated by the "big" bloggers. Like you, some days I blog, some days I don't, some days I should, some days I shouldn't.

You're doing great!

L said...

I'm so glad that if you ever blog about "For the Love of Benji", we will know it is original since you still have the ticket stub. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow. I didn't realize that blogging was so cut-throat! Maybe because I subscribe to exactly one blog... yours.
The main reason I love your blog... because I already thought you were more American than apple pie. I wanted a little more insight... maybe a few tips on how to be so sweet with the perfect flaky crust.

So glad you are the anti-plagiarism fanatic I imagined you to be.

Brooke said...

So, do you remember your tenth grade English teacher? Was your teacher a woman? Mine was. So was my husbands. Envision your past English teacher with breasts that resemble a marble in a tube sock. Justin and I almost died laughing!!!! Though I can sympathize, on to baby #5 and this body will never be the same. Oh, it's a girl! I realize I neglected to mention that on my blog.

Shawn said...

Yep, yep----I saw the aforementioned plagarized blog---it was amazing that it was EXACTLY like the other one----and she had 100's of followers!

I just wonder if she told everyone individually that she had to shut down her blog----or did they just wonder forever what happened to her?

I even heard that she was approached by someone that wanted her to write a book---based on these posts. Crazy!

You can actually check on a website whether there is another site with the same content. Click on the button on my blog---

I think that I stole it from someone else's blog.

Unknown said...

Hmmm.. interesting points. I think overlap is inevitable... Hopefully everyone has their own writing voice.

Heidi said...

Great, great post. You saving your ticket way! Quirky and funny...I'm impressed.

Debbie said...

I don't know why anyone would want to steal one of my posts but it would infuriate me and make me feel very vulnerable at the same time. That is so weird.

EatPlayLove said...

That whole plagiarism thing was horrible! I love my little niche of bloggers i've found to read, including yours. Keep up the good work, we all feel the blahs. I've embraced not having the inspiration to write and I just don't post.