Thursday, April 3, 2008

Keeping Up With The Jonses, or Assimilation Is Imminent

Today's topic is imitation, and this is a big ole long post, full of a big ole rant -- IMITATION. No, I do not mean "fake", I mean "copycat". Imitation is not flattering, it's more of an indication of laziness in my opinion, especially in the field of art. Imitators usually don't have an original thought in their heads. Why not? Why wouldn't someone want their own idea, their own end product? Why would anyone be so lazy as to let someone else think for them? Nowadays imitation is not limited to just ideas, words, pattern, color, technique or form, it has taken over cyber space, too. I have my own copycat stories, which some of you have heard, but I really cannot post them without offending someone. So I'll tell you a story of two women.

Once upon a time, as I said, there were two women. One was extremely creative in her own right, very intelligent, highly talented. We'll call her Violet. The other started out in Violet's circle of friends. We'll call her Sadie. Sadie was not as talented as she was inquisitive and inquiring, yet she was lazy and come to find out, very sneaky and possessing a lack of morals. Once bright and sunny day, Violet started teaching her talents and ideas. Sadie took every class and was an adept student. Then one dark and dreary day, Sadie started teaching, but what she was teaching were Violet's ideas with different names or different colors (you know, that old 10% myth). So, Violet severed all ties with Sadie, as any intelligent woman would do, and they went their separate ways. Now remember, Sadie was not dumb, she was just lazy and sneaky. She kept teaching, not only Violet's ideas, but she used other folks' hard work, too. Several people became quite put out with Sadie, but did little to stop it as sometimes it's easier to ignore something and hope it will go away than it is to just squash it and clean up the mess, but I digress. One day, after many debates with friends and careful consideration, Violet decided to blog. She made the quantum leap to expose her innards on the world wide web. Within less than a week, Sadie started to blog, and oddly enough, her blog looks and sounds very similar to Violet's. Scary stuff? NO!! Irritating stuff!! I even read one blogger's page who was complaining that someone had stolen everything on his blog, from his background images and music, right down to several of his posts! Sheesh! Is it so difficult to ask permission and give credit? By the way kids, plagiarism is not imitation, it's stealing! For a more amusing look at copycats, read Sigrid Wynne-Evans "The Cracked Bead, Chapter Two: You Wish You Could Have My Talent!" This is the kind of stuff you can't make up! (p.s., you need Adobe Reader for this one.)

People ask why I killed off Bumble Beadstm. Let me tell you, the Trademark symbol means nothing to anyone (apparently, neither does the Copyright symbol). I started getting calls from people in places to which I had never been, complaining that the jewelry I sold to them had come apart. Well I wasn't selling jewelry at that point and if I had been it would not be coming apart, never mind the fact that I had never been to Utah or New York. One woman argued with me that she was reading my ad in the Sarasota Gazette, but had no answer as to why someone in a small town in Texas would put an ad in the paper of a small town in New York! I googled "Bumble Beads". I got twelve different web sites, but mine came up first so guess who they all called/e-mailed?? Plus, I didn't want to sell beads anymore. Oops, I'm digressing again. Anyway, folks thought it was a cute name so they "borrowed" it. It was NOT flattering, it was extremely irritating.

The problem with copycats is that we are wired to imitate. Infants learn by imitation, children in school learn by imitation. Children also learn at an early age that being the same as everyone else is preferred behaviour. In other words, it's better to be part of the collective than to be an individual. I have read in several psychology journal articles (yes, I am a nerd and a geek) that there are no new ideas and that everything has been copied. I have also read that imitation in adults in just as innate as it is in infants, so there is no growing out of it or turning it off. I found this interesting article from the New York Times, called "The Copycat in All of Us".

So on that note, if I have ever copied or imitated or failed to give credit to anyone out there, I do apologize. I am striving to be an individual with individual thoughts and ideas, but damn it's hard to fight Mother Nature! So how do we come up with new, exciting, creative ideas as teachers? It's not easy. It's also the reason I am so hesitant to put pictures of my more creative items on the Internet. So many people in the world today are just like Sadie. This is a sad thing, because everyone is creative in their own right. It's just a matter of unlocking that particular part of the brain which, unfortunately seems to get locked up tight during elementary school. It also gets a double security force once puberty kicks in, which is why so many teenagers become rebellious -- they just want to express their individuality.

We should all celebrate our individuality, not smother it. So go out there and do something UNIQUE, do something NOVEL, do something QUIRKY. Just be an INDIVIDUAL today and leave the collective behind for 24 hours. Can you do it? Yes, you can! Go on, give it a try. Close your eyes, and jump in -- the water's fine!

After all, everyone else is doing it.


Anonymous said...



Bead-Mused said...

That's it???
No song???????


Anonymous said...

Okay, you asked for it....
I figure if that so called friend had an anthem this would be it.

Song : Identity
Artist: Blaze

Nothing is ever as good as it seems
Nothing is ever as good as your dreams
Ending is never as good as the start
Madness can come from the mind or the heart

Ideas I take for granted,
Are they just the seeds
That someone else has planted
Right inside of me

Who am I, what is me, losing my Identity
Who am I, what is me, something's taking over.

Who am I, what is me, losing my Identity
Who am I, what is me, I am myself no longer

...Sadie Sucks!...

I actually had a vendor (who I'd never seen before)at a show (that I was not vending at)actually accuse me of trying to copy her ideas. (Which incidentally looked like a 1st grade art project. Yeah, yeah, obnoxious, but it's the truth.) I explained to her that theft of ideas is no different from shoplifting.
I read Sig's experience.. all I can say is...

..... Karma Rocks!!! .....

Happy Beading

Anonymous said...

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