Why Imitation is NOT the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Ohhhhhh Kaayyyyyy. My sleeves are rolled up, my sassy pants are on and Im going to be telling it like it is. Im going to be to the point, and direct about why I don’t feel imitation is a form of flattery. Ready?

If you copy someones work, you are a knob. The end.

Ok so maybe that is a little too short and sweet, (or not sweet), but I hope it gets my point across pretty much straight away? Good. Let’s now discuss. Im going to let you in on why Imitation is a form of flattery, that feels a bit rubbish. Let’s also try to work out where the line between inspiration and imitation starts and finishes. It will also be in my usual, say what I mean way! Grab your cuppa. (or possibly gin for this one. Im going IN)

imitation is a form of flattery - or is it?
But imitation is a form of flattery – isn’t it?

Why Imitation is a form of flattery – Or is it??

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my little rant I had about how I had seen that someone had copied part of one of my blog posts. Firstly, Id like to try to make you understand how this made me feel, as I think sometimes, people say “Oh take it as a compliment’, because they don’t fully understand the impact it has. Without being overly dramatic, (you know I have a tendency to do that, it’s the frustrated actress in me) it made me feel violated. I appreciate thats a weird word to use, but thats how it made me feel. The paragraph that had been copied was from a personal post that I had written, where I had left a little bit of my heart on the page, and had felt a little vulnerable. To have someone then take my words, my exact description of how I was feeling, and use it in their own post, made me feel shit. It made me feel like someone had discounted what I was saying, and used me. Temporarily, it made me feel like I didn’t want to write those sort of posts anymore, despite them being the posts I have written from day one. It was horrible.

why imitation is not a form of flattery
Is imitation flattery?

My lovely Instagram family were wonderful to me. Some even told me stories of them too having had work copied. They were angry on my behalf, they were calling me for me to name and shame and trust me when I say, the temptation to do so on that first day was real. I wanted to hit back. I wanted to shout from the rooftops to the people that were reading her post, telling her how nice the words were, that they were not her words, they were mine! My heart was heavy with the feeling of having the words of my heart taken. I wanted to block her on every platform and explain to her my distress. I was feeling a rush of emotions, none of them positive. All of them destructive.

But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right??

However. Life has taught me to never act when I am feeling like that. The amount of times I have gotten in trouble, (sometimes serious trouble, I will tell you the story of when I was a member of the hunt saboteurs another day) has taught me to cool my engines and take a breath when faced with someones knobbish actions. Not to react. So thats what I did. I allowed myself to calm. I meditated on it. I waited for the fire within me to reduce to a flickering flame, and my head to clear and have some clarity. This is when I saw the situation for what it was. I took my ego out of it, stopped feeling so offended, and tried to think about why someone would do that. Why would someone want to use someone else’s voice? Use someone else’s story? Why?

why imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery
You have to calm your storm

I think it comes down to their own lack of confidence in their own work, or laziness. One or the other. If it is a lack of confidence, well I can feel a degree of empathy and sympathy for that. I would hate to feel something, but feel my own words were not enough to convey that feeling. That must be restrictive and frustrating. It must feel like having a hand over your mouth mustn’t it. It must also surely give only temporary satisfaction, as you are not conveying your own heart, but replicating someones else’s. I feel for them, and can forgive that. Or, they may see it that imitation is a form of flattery and that I should feel pleased! (FYI, I do not feel pleased….) Laziness however, is different. Reading someones words and thinking yeah I feel like that, so I will just nick those words or opinions, is low. Its classless and it’s lazy. It’s being a knob. I don’t forgive that quite so easily. I have had someone copy my style of writing before, their own writing suddenly having my voice and opinions, and I let that go over my head, but never had my exact words stolen. That was a tough day in the office.

So when is imitation flattery…if at all? 

So, where does the line finish between inspiration and imitation? When is it that imitation IS a form of flattery? What makes a piece of work go from an idea that was triggered by someone else’s work, to full on copying of an idea? What is your opinion on this? They say in story writing that there is actually only seven original outlines of plot lines, so I guess it’s understandable that many blog posts will be on similar subjects. Especially topical or current affair type subjects. We all get that, but where does the “originality” line start and finish? What do you think?

Oh and also, why do some people not credit the person that they were inspired by! Its blooming rude in my opinion. Again, its taking someones work and using it for your own use! To give you an example, I wrote a post earlier this year, that was inspired by one of my blogging buddies posts. This post, If we were having coffee, was wrote very differently to Janelle’s, but I had been inspired by her work, so of course, I gave her full credit and a mention. Its only right isn’t it? She had been my inspiration for the post, so credit where it is due. Why does the blogosphere struggle to do this? It’s certainly not all bloggers, I have seen people nodding their hats at fellow writers when they have been inspired, but sadly it doesn’t seem the norm. Why? Is it that little devil ego again? Is it lack of confidence? The person feels they don’t want to credit the other person, just incase their readers should find the other post better? Im not sure but its a shame isn’t it?

imitation os a form of flattery - or is it?
But imitation is flattery….right?

I have said before, that I have been an avid reader of blogs for ever! I remember blogs when they were truly online journals and diaries. It’s probably ten years ago that I started my own first blog (which was called A Thirty Something) so of course, I have seen the changes in blogs, and the industry as a whole. People see it as a career now. They read the stories of people making good money from blogging. Oh and we all know the perception that bloggers just get a load of free shiz and take a pic or two…..Is that why imitation has reared its head more? That pressure to keep getting content published means people have become a little lazy in their ideas and content? They use other peoples ideas as it means they can stick to their posting schedules if they have one?  Are the people with the huge, burning passion to write occasionally being fed upon by the people that want to “blog” in large quantity? What are your thoughts on this?

Imitation goes on in abundance in many areas. We all know those people that buy whatever their favourite instagrammer is wearing. I see that as inspiration. If they suddenly want their hair the same, the nail colour the same etc, is that then imitation? Let’s think about our friendships groups. You may love Mary’s latest front room decor, and want to use the colours to create your own new living room. Thats inspiration. If you are suddenly buying the same lamp, rug, coffee table books, clock etc, is that then imitation? You see? Where are the start and end points? The lines can be a little blurred, I get that. I do however think you know, deep down in your heart you KNOW if you have copied rather than been inspired. Don’t you think?

I am over the situation now. I have seen it for what it is and refuse to be brought down by it. I will not waste energy on it. I wish them well. I love writing, I adore blogging in my eclectic, random way. I love telling you my thoughts and discussing them with you, so I will not let this recent experience jade me. But. Let me assure you,  imitation really, truly does not feel flattering when it is your words from your soul that have been copied. When you have shown a little vulnerability and someone strides on over and uses it. It’s not flattering. Its shit

So, as ever, if you have your cuppa’s at the ready, I would love to know your thoughts and feelings on this. Talk to me about it. Tell me what you think? Tell me where you think the lines are drawn with regards to inspiration versus imitation. Tell me if you think I handled it rightly or wrongly. Let me know if you have had similar experiences. 


why immitation is not the sincerest form of fattery
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  1. November 16, 2018 / 6:22 pm

    Ah Kerry – you know how I feel about the situation… You are a lot more tolerant than I would have been, but experience has taught you to look at things logically – I need to calm down my hot-head & take a leaf out of your book! You have absolutely done the right thing of course and I think writing about it will make others aware of what others do. I bet it goes on a lot more than what people are aware too.

    • kerrylifeandloves
      November 16, 2018 / 8:19 pm

      i think it does go on more than I realised. I had people message me to say they had experienced similar. Also on twitter a lady said she had the same. Its madness isn’t it! I fail to see what satisfaction it would bring them! The beauty of writing is exploring your own mind isn’t it.

      • November 16, 2018 / 8:51 pm

        Yeah that doesn’t surprise me. I just keep thinking how sad it is really. I mean, how can these people be proud of their achievements knowing that plagiarism has played a part in getting them there? Just sad.

  2. Susanne
    November 16, 2018 / 8:22 pm

    Oh, Kerry, I can feel your pain when I read this! And I know that if I had put my heart and soul into a blog post, and then saw someone else basically steal it, I would be very upset. It was enough last spring when I was in Dublin and took a picture of a huge ad on the back of a bus, it was an ad about a certain whiskey distillery tours. I put the picture on Instagram, and some week later I saw that same picture on said distillery’s Twitter feed. I know it was my photo because it had the exactly same angle and Instagram filter. It was a lousy iphone snapshot but I was so pissed off! Especially when there is a “share” function on IG where the photographer’s name will be displayed whereever it’s shared.
    I feel a little stupid about it now – but I was upset back then because it was such a rude behaviour. Anyway, what I want to say is that stealing posts is definitely NOT ok. Inspiration yes, and using blog post concepts, yes, but not stealing words and expressions and opinions!
    I had to smile when you wrote about “the people who just want to blog”. I see a different between people who have a passion for writing – and bloggers. They can be both, of course. But not necessarily. However, blogging these days has a new definition (being a career) and I’ve been in a bit of crisis because of this. Should I call myself a blogger? Is my site even a blog? Wikipedia and whatever still defines a blog as a website where pages are sorted after date they’re published, but I feel that it’s not the case out there. When you speak about having a blog, people immediately think you are doing it as a job, post sponsored stuff and get free whatever sent to you.
    I actually thought of not mentioning the word “blog” in my future moving-to-Ireland blog, but instead call it a journal. Now that’s probably a bit overkill, but I’ve been thinking about these things a lot!

    • kerrylifeandloves
      November 16, 2018 / 8:46 pm

      Ohhh Susanne I can imagine how it felt seeing your photo used. Its a horrible feeling so I bet you felt peeved! I am totally for all of us inspiring each other, tat should be standard, but as you say, a straight copy is way over that! I hope me saying people just want to blog is not coming across as rude? i mean it that its not the writing that inspires them, its “blogging” as a whole. I think you should call your blog whatever you want to call it (Im looking forward to your Ireland adventures) so dont over think it. Just call it whatever you fancy and feels right xxx
      Thank you so much for your input, you know I always appreciate it so much. I love reading your thoughts xxxx

      • Susanne
        November 16, 2018 / 10:23 pm

        Actually that photo is the reason why I’ve started using a logo – at least on blog photos (I’m too lazy to do it on IG – since I never know how I’ll crop them, and I don’t want to have to fiddle with that stuff on my phone), and I’ve also started adding metadata to all photos, with copyright and name and all that. I’m so glad for Lightroom – and Watermark Plus – where you can do it in batches!
        I’m not sure if people would think it’s rude. I guess it depends on how much you are afraid of offending someone, or how much too seriously they take themselves. I’m becoming a cynical person (actually, tomorrow I’m going to a stand-up comedian show named “no more ***** to give”. Suits me perfectly, lol) and I’m just to fed up with certain things and concepts, although I want to be a nice person of course. But sometimes I just want to vent a little. I don’t like this idea of starting blogs with the only purpose to earn money, not because of passion or interest in something, and that this concept is what gives modern blogging its definition.

        Thanks for your pep talk!! If I can write two more posts and a new about page, I’ll release the new blog and I’ll be sooo happy if you come and visit. Keep your eyes open on Twitter – and do you follow our twoswedesinireland Instagram account? (feel free to edit this comment if it’s too self-promotional!!)

        • kerrylifeandloves
          November 17, 2018 / 8:12 am

          Ahhh dont be daft, its not too self promotional at all xxxx That comedy show sounds like something I would enjoy. Perfect title haha! I will come and find you on Insta. get that blog published! xxxx

  3. November 16, 2018 / 10:20 pm

    Oh Kerry! I feel your pain! I had someone copying me every week. I may have discussed this with you? It drove me round the bend! I considered talking about it with them and then though you know what? It would be me to come out looking like the bad person? It’s a tricky subject. I laugh about it now though. I can guarantee if I write a certain sentence for a couple of weeks I can lay money it will turn up on said persons post!

    • kerrylifeandloves
      November 17, 2018 / 8:10 am

      Oh really? It is an ongoing thing? That is awful. The thing is, I have people tell me that I inspired them to write something, and that makes me feel amazing. Its entirely different when someone copies. It feels like someone has stolen from you doesn’t it. Its horrible. I think rising above it is the best way to deal with it, or its you thats wasting energy on it. Here is to being an original! Cheers x

  4. November 17, 2018 / 8:36 am

    At school the children are encouraged to ‘magpie’ words and ideas from books to enrich their own writing. If I’m stuck sometimes for a better word too will magpie one, usually by doing a quick Google search, but copying somenes posts or parts of is definitely a big no no. It’s just not on. Full stop! How would I personally feel if someone did the same thing to me? For a start, I’d be gobsmacked that someone felt it was worth copying, and then the irritation and annoyance would kick in. How bloody dare they! Would I name and shame? Not sure. I’d be tempted but I always thinks it’s best to sleep on something and not bite back immediately when your feeling angry and hurt. I was taught to never be too hasty and allow the waters to settle before reacting. I think you did exactly the right thing this time, but if it happens again? Well, time then to kick arse!
    Am I a blogger? Well I write a blog so I must be although I have to say that I feel a bit embarrassed to admit to it as people’s expectations of blogs these days are different than way back. If you say you have a blog I worry that they think I’m writing something that they’ll gain inspiration and ideas from. Err, hardly!
    I must say that the fact that you started out blogging as a Thirtysomething me made me smile. Just to make it very clear, I definitely did not magpie your blog name when I chose mine. It’s just purely coincidental. Honestly!! xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      November 17, 2018 / 12:25 pm

      Hahahah! trust me, I was so useless on the first blog I dont think anyone saw it lol. I have never heard of the term magpie something, but I like it! That isnt copying in my eyes, thats getting inspiration from something that is already in your brain. I do feel that it was the right thing to do, and yes I was blooming hurt and annoyed, but I also think you never know what someone is going through. I try to act with empathy. BUT, as you say, there is no second chances, I will not be so forgiving the next time! Oh and I must add, do not put yourself down Mrs! You write beautifully, witty and full of YOU, I love it xxxx

  5. November 18, 2018 / 10:55 am

    I’m sorry you had this experience Kerry. I do 100% believe the energy and actions you put out into the world you receive back. I feel concern for the person doing this as they’re putting out a lot of negative energy, especially if they realise they’re doing it. I hope they find their own path soon. Stealing is never acceptable. We should choose to act with love always xxx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      November 18, 2018 / 12:41 pm

      Thank you for your comment Alex. I feel that too, thats why I try not to be reactive. Its trying to see why someone might act that way, and forgiving them isnt it. (Only once mind, I will not be so forgiving next time) I hope they find their way too, I truly do xxx

  6. November 18, 2018 / 4:40 pm

    This happened to me last year. A girl copied my exact title, image layout and literally my words re-written. But I didn’t have the guts to come forward and say something. As a writer, I’ve learnt that respecting the source and credit of your writing is crucial. Copying is just childish to me. There’s definitely a difference between inspiration and stealing.
    And I’m glad you’ve come forward to talk about this. Sometimes I do think people read stuff and a few days later, it comes back and without fully realising. Like I read a great article last week and cannot remember from which online magazine. But to literally copy word-for-word, or to take so obviously, just proves her lack of writing skill. xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      November 18, 2018 / 8:39 pm

      It has amazed me that so many people have experienced it. I have had a few messages with similar tales. It saddens me. I think your right that people read something and it perhaps triggers something, (hence me always having a note pad with me lol) but replicating an idea or entire post is just low. Thank you for reading xxx

  7. November 19, 2018 / 10:30 am

    It’s plagiarism, pure and simple, At uni, we had a student council that would judge students who did this and decide on their punishment. If it was an obvious “steal” they were out. It’s unethical, and in the world of journalism, it’s totally unprofessional.

    • kerrylifeandloves
      November 23, 2018 / 1:09 pm

      Oh really. I think that sounds like a great way to deal with it! I feel its unethical, 100%, but the more tolerant side of me tries to think kindly. I try to think that they are struggling with their confidence in their own work. I find that easier to forgive. I must add however, I will only let it slide once. Should it happen again, I will not be so tolerant! Thank you for reading and leaving me your view, I really appreciate it xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      November 28, 2018 / 12:31 pm

      I will only be tolerant once. No second chances lol. Thanks for stopping by, I will pop across x

  8. Tegan
    December 11, 2018 / 11:33 am

    I’ve only just read the first couple of paragraphs so far but I had to write a comment. I loved the opening “If you copy someones work, you are a knob. The end.” *laughs* best opening to a post!

    • kerrylifeandloves
      December 11, 2018 / 11:59 am

      Ahh Tegan, thank you for your comment. Im known for being pretty direct hahaha! Straight to the point I say….Thanks for reading x

  9. May 14, 2020 / 4:40 am

    I’m a few years late to this post – but apparently it’s still very relevant since it just came up on my google search. I’m still in the beginning stages of launching my business idea from 2 years ago (sad, I know!). And while I know my concept is similar to some other companies, the name I created is very personal to me. I just found a place in Canada that has taken my name and added another word to the end of it. I was crushed! Not because of the super similar products they’ve created, but the name was so personal to me! Something I thought of while dealing with break up depression. And then to have it copied because it’s cute! However, I will say that it has sparked a creative fire in me that will outshine anyone that is too insecure or lazy to be creative on their own! Thank you for this post and offering a different take on the imitation is flattery notion!

    • May 14, 2020 / 6:38 am

      Amy Maria thank you so much for reading, and sharing your story. I’m so sorry that you have experienced that. You have used the absolute right word there, crushed is exactly how it feels. When it’s so personal, it cuts deep doesn’t it. However, what a force you are! I love that you have turned it around to fuel your creative fire! That is amazing and is testament to your strength. I wish you all the best wishes in the world for your business venture. You will be amazing

I love reading your comments x

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