Friday, April 11, 2014

THE COPY CAT: FRIEND OR FOE?

We’re all adults here, but I want to know what you think about a relatively elementary concept: Copy cats.

How do you perceive them?

Do they bother you?

Or do they barely register on your Richter scale of consciousness?

And what really constitutes an act of coping, anyway?

I mean, if someone were to, say, invent and patent a waterproof device that would enable us to shave our legs while we condition and detangle our hair in the shower, and if I went out and reproduced the exact same thing, then that is, of course, a textbook example of copying at work.

But I’m not talking about that.

I’m talking about murkier cases; cases when you know that what the other person has/is doing/is wearing is a direct reflection of something they saw you having/doing/wearing.

I have a younger cousin who, when we were children, used to copy virtually everything I did…right down to the way I crossed my legs when we’d ride in the backseat of my mother’s car together. She would also want to eat what I ate; wear what I wore, etc.

And. It. Drove. Me insane.

It is because of this aforementioned experience that I sat up and took notice of something Carole Radziwill of The Real Housewives of New York said during a recent episode that blared in the background while I unloaded the dishwasher:

"Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Flattery is the sincerest form of flattery."

I tend to agree. But to be sure, I tried this theory on for size by way of a hypothetical scenario:

If you read this blog even somewhat regularly, you know that I review products – many of them I’ve purchased on my own accord and write about because I ultimately want you to experience them as well.

Posts like my Diaper Bag Deconstructed and The. Best. Winter. Boots. Ever. are perfect examples. Let’s say you went out and bought the same nylon Longchamp tote to use as a diaper bag, followed by the exact same pair of Bog boots, and then you e-mailed me to inform me of this.

My verdict?

I’d think that’s awesome! Really, I would. And I'd be – for lack of a better word – flattered.

But let’s say that one of my close friends did the exact same thing.

I’m not going to lie: I’d think it was...weird.

Let’s say, one day while grabbing coffee with said friend, I waxed poetic about the merits of Patagonia fleece, and then the next thing I know, her daughter has on the exact same bunting suit I bought for Kennedy.

Let's say that I wasn't trying to sell my friend on Patagonia fleece. I was just talking about how much I liked it.

Would that be weird?

Hell-to-the-yeah. (Go ahead, flame away and call me shallow; I can take it.)

It wouldn’t set me off or anything, but I would definitely characterize the behavior as mildly irritating. And, frankly, I would wonder what’s next: I would wonder if my friend would, in the words of another Bravo Real Housewife, “want to skin me and wear me like last season’s Versace.”

But, let me flip the script for a moment.

While I wouldn’t buy the exact item one of my close friends owns, I wholeheartedly admit to having bought my navy blue Birkenstock Gizehs because I saw them on Julia Roberts first.

Furthermore, I've taken heed to advice doled out by my bloggy friends with regard to products, recipes, and more.

So is the act of copying ultimately defined by whether the other person knows he or she is being copied, or better yet, encourages it?

I feel like, on the one hand, society tells us to "keep up with the Joneses," (which I believe is totally bullsh!t); but, yet, we're somehow deemed less than if we copy.

So which is it? 

And furthermore, what, if anything, does gender have to do with it?

I asked The Hubs for his take on the matter, and he wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest if one of his friends, say, bought a sweater identical to his or a replica of our dining room table.

Does the estrogen coursing through my veins inherently make me more insecure?

To a certain degree, aren’t we all just collecting inspiration and filing away images from each other as we meander through life?

But, really.

Is imitation really the sincerest form of flattery?


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31 comments:

  1. Ya know it really does depend. It truly doesn't bother me but years ago I worked with a nail tech who had a scary girl crush on me. She was the type of person who even if she tried could not even hide her crazy! She copied me right down to going to my hair stylist.I was certain she would have been happy wearing a 'Susie Suit'! I love Carole Radziwill by the way!!

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    1. Yikes! I hope she didn't live near you. I bet she was peering through your windows at night...

      I LOVE me some Carole, too! She's got great style...

      Thank you for commenting...and enjoy your weekend! :-)

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  2. Mostly I hate when other bloggers copy. Especially when they comment on your site and then a few days later post about the same topic lol. This has actually happened to me. It's not plagerism but at least the person should have had the courtesy to give a link back.

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    1. Oooooh, yeah. Them's fightin' words, as they say. That would get my goat. I'm not EVEN going to lie...

      Thank you for weighing in, Michelle. That was a good one...

      Delete
  3. I've had my share of people copying me. Do I like it? No, but what can I do about it? Now if it comes to someone copying my blog post then I would be pissed!

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    1. You're right, Louida. Nothing we can do, so we're SOL in that regard. I just don't know why I find it so irritating...

      Copying blog posts would make me blow my top. Hands. Off. My. Posts.

      Grrrrrr.

      Thank you for commenting.

      Delete
  4. I think it truly depends. Is it one thing or the concept, idea. As an example, if it's a sweater, yes; but if it's an outfit and a hairstyle, it's a little crazy. As a blogger, especially new, 9th hard to find that line. I've learned to credit, but not all people know the etiquette.

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    1. Yes, April, I agree, giving credit when it's do is definitely an excellent place to start...

      Additionally, I agree that it does depend on the situation: An article of clothing is one thing...but snatching one's hard-earned creation is something completely different.

      Thank you for commenting!

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  5. Hilarious again, copy cat...not cool

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  6. Some copying is okay. But constant copying? That would get old and I'd probably snap and say something.

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    1. "I'd probably snap and say something."

      THIS.

      This is what I should do in the instance of constant copying. But I have a tendency to remain silently annoyed over shit like this, and then...POOF! Explode. (Read: All manners and niceties would go out the window. :-/

      I am not proud of this fact.

      Delete
  7. hmmmm - this is a tough one. I don;t think I would care if my neighbor wore the exact same outfit as me one day after I wore it every day. I probably would be flattered. I am just too lazy to care I think, but I can see how it might be annoying to someone who had taste and style - haha! I do agree that flattery is the sincerest form of flattery - boy, just when you think housewives isn't educational...

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    1. Don't expect such cerebral heaviness from all the Housewives franchises, no.

      Remember: Carole, the woman who uttered the imitation quote that inspired this post, is a writer. ;-)

      Thanks for commenting...and have a nice weekend.

      Delete
  8. The copy cat is a foe. Nothing flattering about it to me. I used to put out a weekly newsletter back in the day. An editor from a Womens magazine anonymously signed up and copied much of my content. She then took my content and put it in her book. Nothing flattering about any of that. I find her pathetic! Oh...then she protected her tweets on TWITTER while continuing to copy my content from my now blog for her book. She's been copying me for years. I met a woman the other day and she said the copy cat reminded her of me...

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    1. Although your experience made me throw up in my mouth, I am glad you shared it because it shows the ugly, horrendous depths leeches -- er, people -- can sink to.

      Please tell me you've considered legal action? PLEASE.

      Thank you for commenting.

      Delete
  9. I think there can also be a point of distinguishing between inspiration and direct copying. I don't think I've ever directly bought something because I saw someone else wearing it--definitely as women we seem to have the instinctive idea that we don't want to be wearing the same outfit as someone else.

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    1. Well, you're one of the noble ones, Rachel. Like I said, after I spied those Gizehs on Julia Roberts, I was like, Must. Have. Those.

      But I have never copied an entire outfit from head to toe -- and I wouldn't dare do it, especially with regard to someone I know. Now, I clearly concede to having been inspired by a look on a celebrity -- I think we all have, though...haven't we? But I have not gone out and duplicated it like a clone.

      Thank you for stopping by again, Rachel! I appreciate your comment.

      Delete
  10. One of my sister's bought the identical dress my other sister owned once. She said she would not wear it to family functions, so they wouldn't be seen together in the same dress. Actually, I think the problem is worse for those who copy lifestyle when they can't afford it. I have to go on a big vacation because all my co-workers take vacations etc. I need the latest Keurig maker because both my sisters own one, etc.

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    1. "Actually, I think the problem is worse for those who copy lifestyle when they can't afford it."

      Ding, ding, ding, Savvy WorkingGal! You've won the proverbial prize today. EXACTLY. Times a million.

      Wow, thank you for joining in on the discussion, and making this point. Thank you.

      Delete
  11. Creepy, creepy creepy, I think there is a horror movie out there that depicts the copying. Single white female, or something. I don't do horror movies..... ;)
    That all said for the last two years I have been on the hunt for the perfect cross over SUV. It was down to the Chevrolet Traverse or the Dodge Durango. Then my girlfriend across the street last month just as I was about to pull the trigger said go sit in my Nissan Pathfinder. I did, it was everything I was looking for at the right price and it felt so luxurious. So two day later that is was I got, I got red and she has silver. Is that creepy? Is that copying? I have no idea, I love my car and she loves hers.... I should go ask her if she is creeped out :)

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    1. Hi, Ray! That movie Single White Female was the first thing I thought of when I read Susie's (EstheticGoddess') comment above!

      Okay, back to your story: No, no, no. You are safe. You did not copy.

      Here's how it would have been copying...Let's say you were in the market for a 2-door sedan. You NEEDED and WANTED a 2-door sedan. But your neighbor drives up to her house one afternoon in the Pathfinder. Then, all of a sudden, you feel compelled to buy the same. You don't even know if you'll like the Pathfinder -- remember, you need the 2-door sedan! But for some odd reason, your neighbor is your benchmark, so you go with the Pathfinder.

      That is copying.

      I like Pathfinders! Scott bought one -- and really LOVED his -- right after he got drafted into the NFL...

      Your daughter has a track meet today, right? I hope she kicks some major butt! <3

      Delete
  12. Ok, so your cousin copying you had me dying laughing because I used to do the same thing with one of my older cousins. She used to babysit me and my brother and I would copy everything she did until one day she said "stop copying me". I was about 8 and she was about 16 and the reason I copied here...because i wanted to be just like her. I used to think she was so pretty so if I copied her, I'd end up looking and being just like her. Fast forward to years later, my daughters starting copying me for the same reason. So now that everyone is all grown up and now copying you, could it be that your friend in her head wants to be like you? Maybe she's envious in some kind of way and feels you will think differently of her if she doesn't have what you have. Look at it from all angels. But maybe if it keeps up, you may have to ask her.

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    1. I can always depend on you to break it down, Angela. I was nodding all the way through your comment. In this particular instance, I guess I should be flattered.

      Now, plagiarism and stuff, NOTHING flattering about that. EVER.

      Thank you for sharing your comments!

      Delete
  13. well...if a friend of mine bought one thing I had because I sang it's praises I would probably shrug and hope to hell it was purchased in another color. But (and it's a big one) if that same friend repeatedly purchased things I owned that would be a no way, no how, get the hell away from me moment.

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    1. "...if that same friend repeatedly purchased things I owned that would be a no way, no how, get the hell away from me moment."

      Word. My thoughts precisely.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. You were actually on my must-visit list this week -- even before this comment...

      Delete
  14. I actually love that quote and use it often, imitation is flattery (in my humble opinion). And if you're being imitated, you are doing something right! I am fine with it...even people that steal blog ideas etc. It's a compliment when someone uses my ideas, because I know it validates it was a good one. And usually, the copy is never as lovely as the original!

    I can tell you in TV, everyone is a COPYCAT! How many cooking reality shows are there? American Idol, X Factor...they are all the same. I even copy and tweak different tv segments for my baseball show. We all want to be original, and innovative, but sometimes we just need ideas.

    As for fashion...I would totally copy you...because I have to clue what's hot! It's all just a matter of perspective.

    As a side note, I love your blog and honesty when writing.

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    1. You're right, Kristen. Plain and simple. You are right. And, sometimes, it is just a matter of gleaning inspiration, which, I have no issue with...as long as the imitator creates something new.

      Thank you times a million for the compliment about my blog. I truly appreciate it. I told The Hubs that the only way this blog would work -- to really make it work like I had long envisioned -- is if I roll sans filter. Yeah, sometimes I wonder if what I publish will be met with backlash later.

      But, meh.

      It's the only way I know how to be.

      Thank you, again, for reading.

      Delete
  15. Hi Courtney! I'm Ursula and I found you on the Bloggy Moms Blog Hop **waves**. It cracks me up to see this post, because I was doing the whole natural hair thing for awhile, I would rock my twistouts, protective styles and a funky scarf (you know, with the knot in the back or on top, turban style). Anyway, I've now started getting pressed again, cause I just couldn't take the work, and would from time to time rock the scarf (like, on appt. days).

    So, this Filipina co-worker of mine would comment on it "oh, it's so cute", "how do you do that??", and I showed her, just flattered that she took an interest. The next week, homegirl is wearing a scarf EVERY DAY!!! I was like WTH!?! LOL

    I haven't worn a scarf since. :'(

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    1. WHAT????!!!! Oh, no she di-in't! Pardon me while I re-read your comment so that I can fully process this level of blatant imitation...

      Okay. I'm back. And I apologize because I got so caught up in your comment that I didn't properly thank you for stopping by here in the first place: Thank you so much -- and thank you for your comment. Ugh. How very annoying for you.

      That would be the last day of me rocking the scarf, too. Sigh.

      I'm glad we've connected. I will swing by your place later today; I'm only up at this crazy hour because Kennedy is popping her first tooth and loves to nurse throughout the night because it eases her pain...

      I'll TTYL. Thank you for stopping by...and for the follow I really appreciate it. <3

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    2. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, gurl...she did.

      Poor Kennedy :'( What a blessing OUR teething days are over, right? Looking forward to seeing you soon!

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