Tuesday, May 14, 2013

#21 Don't plagiarize, a.k.a., The day somebody said I caught cancer for marketing purposes

In case I haven't beaten this dead horse enough, I wrote a list of 20 Things a Mother Should Tell Her Son, and it's been shared a few times... blah, blah, blah. Are you as sick of hearing about it as I am talking about it? (Rhetorical.)

When it's shared, I know it's impossible or improbable to give me credit, so when that doesn't happen - which is basically every time - I don't sweat it.

I'm no different. I just shared an e-card on Facebook about muffin tops and I have no idea who created it. I didn't Google it or anything. I just hit "share" and went on about my business. Totally fine. Nobody faults us for that.

But recently, something a little different happened.

A Facebook friend posted a link to "20 Things a Father Should Tell His Son" and tagged me in it. I expected to see an original list, but instead, I saw a copy-and-paste version of my list, word-for-word. The only difference was "mother" was changed to "father", for obvious reasons, of course.

His photo also duplicated the original: a father holding his infant son with "20 things a father should tell his son" written in the corner. I found the image on another website, so I'm assuming it's probably copyright protected.    

That was blatant plagiarizing - promoted to his 85,000+ Facebook fans - so I felt like an email needed to be sent. I never received a response to my email, and I was blocked from his Facebook page.

A couple of days later, he dedicated a full blog post to how offended he was that I contacted him. (Usually I have to fall down a flight of stairs at a PTA meeting to warrant that much dialogue. This was much safer.)

He openly admitted to plagiarizing and for being a serial copy-and-paster, saying,  "I have never claimed any of the posts to (be) mine."

So good news, y'all. Admitting something means you're not responsible anymore. I totally robbed that bank, but since I said it, I don't have to go to jail, right? Yay!  

He goes on to write, "one viral post doesn't make you a god". Then he calls me a hypocrite and a bully. He also calls me "uneducated" just before writing "bully's" as the plural form of the word "bully". Ahem.

So I'm confused here. It's morally okay to steal other people's stuff, but it's not okay to ask somebody to stop it? Oops, my bad. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

He ends his post with this paragraph:
"User beware. Many people are not what they seem. We all have to be wary of those whom share stories related to health issues to gain your sympathy and then end up selling merchandise. It's called marketing and it seems to work well, but I find it morally incomprehensible when people would use a cancer story in an effort to increase their level of wealth." 
That paragraph is sort of the only reason why I'm giving this guy 5 minutes of my time.

First off, sharing my cancer story hasn't increased my wealth. When you consider my out-of-pocket medical expenses and my time out of work, it's actually decreased my wealth quite a bit. But what it has done, however, is spread awareness and possibly even saved lives. Bless his heart that he didn't see the difference.

And second, this guy has obviously never looked at his children and wondered if he would watch them grow up, get married, or have children of their own. I've done that, and let me tell you, it's harder than you'd think.

If he had, he would never accuse somebody of 'catching cancer for marketing purposes'. What an ignorant oaf.

As for me? I find it morally incomprehensible that somebody would flippantly write "a cancer story" as if we were talking about Cinderella or Horton Hears a Who. If you've ever had cancer or loved someone who has, you know that "a cancer story" is more than The Pokey Little Puppy. It's sort of bigger than that.

I didn't contact him after I read his blog post, because seriously, some people can't be helped. He has deleted it now, so I guess he had a moment of clarity or something.

The Internet usually brings me such joy. I like writing articles for this website and making silly songs or videos. I love seeing other people's online creations. I even enjoy the TMI on Facebook. Yep, I love it all.

Except for this. I probably could've lived without this.