It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. ~ Herman Melville
Originality does not consist in saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think yourself. ~ James Stephens (Irish poet and storyteller)
One of the wonderful things about the internet is the ability to find any information we need to help us get something done or to define or spell a word correctly or to say something better than we can ourselves. I know that while I love written language and love to write myself, I rarely have exactly the right words to say just what I want to say. I am fond of using quotes in my posts because I can usually find someone much more eloquent and with a greater command of the English language than I have myself. When I find these wise words, I share the source of the quotation or phrase that I found so the person, living or deceased, is given credit. I recently saw a blatant instance on Facebook where the words posted were not those of the person taking credit for them.
While I don’t have a badge from the plagiarism police, I feel bad for the source of the material that was copied. When I mentioned to my oldest son that I believed at least part of the post was copied, he informed me that by just copying and pasting the sentences from this post into the google search engine, I could see if it was indeed copied. He proceeded to do that very thing and within seconds had a website with the text, verbatim, that was plagiarised on the Facebook page. It would have been so easy for this person to give credit to the source and not to pass off the words as his/her own. A simple statement along with some quotation marks would have given the original writer credit and probably a little boost to her ego that someone thought enough of her words to want to share them. I believe that most people are pleased when what they say resonates with others and especially if it is liked enough that the reader wants to share. If there ever comes a day that someone cares enough to want to share anything I have written or photographed, I would be more than happy to allow anyone to use my work and to share it with anyone that might enjoy it as long as I am given credit for what I have done.
I think that with this, as with most things in life, the best thing to do is to treat others the way that we want to be treated. We all want to be given credit when we do something good, so we should give credit to others when they do something helpful or say something insightful that touches us. In the immortal words of one wiser than myself, Robert Fulghum, in his wonderful essay All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten, one of the lessons we all learned in Kindergarten, No. 6 on his list, is “Don’t take things that aren’t yours.”. That includes words as well as things!
As for me, I enjoy original writing even if it isn’t always grammatically correct or punctuated perfectly. If it’s from the heart, that’s what counts for me. What are your thoughts?