I already posted a short rant about this a while back but it’s  a constant irritant that does not let up no matter how hard you try to ignore or avoid it.

In fact it’s only getting worse. If Supreme Court justices and even literary giants had managed to get themselves caught in its tangles, what would you expect from the average person who may or may not even be aware of the gross intellectual dishonesty he may have unwittingly committed?

Plagiarism is too strong a word for it. But in the absence of something less direct, let’s call a spade a spade, shall we?

The reason why I hesitate to label it as such is because it hardly qualifies as something that people usually associate with the act. You mention plagiarism to anyone who knows it and the immediate image that appears is a thick manuscript of some novel, or a technical paper, or an article on some hoity-toity  site or magazine that people visit to post their hubris and outdo each other in terms of eloquence and intellectual weight of their arguments. Always in that air of benevolence and misconception that only writers or people involved in ‘writing’ are the only ones capable of doing it or have done it.

But never on status messages, tweets, or any other social networking platform that allows people to write and post anything for the entire world to see.

According to Wikipedia—not exactly the most reliable bastion of information as its contents can even be manipulated by anyone who shares the same intellectual profile as Homer Simpson—plagiarism is defined as  the “wrongful appropriation,” “close imitation,” or “purloining and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions,” and the representation of them as one’s own original work…”

That’s the standard definition. And that’s not including the legal jargons, conditions, as well as the internet’s impact on things like this—the realm where ideas float around and have no readily apparent author claiming ownership to them.

I’m not going to dwell on the intricacies of what constitutes the crime or the offense, but I do know this: you do not post something, especially written materials, out in the open, without proper attribution or citation to the source. You do not claim anything you do not own as yours, period.

Even if it’s a non-profitable activity like abysmal attempts at cuteness.

Petty? You bet. But that does not make it right. Just because the exception became the rule does not make it okay to sit back and watch people devolve into a group of witless and imagination-challenged mob jerking each other off to someone’s own idea and thoughts.

I have a strong suspicion about ignorance playing a large part in all of this but that is precisely the problem. How do you go about telling a contact off without being accused of being a prudish and joyless old goat who needs to take it easy and take things lightly?

Kung sa Pinoy pa: Walang basagan ng trip. O kaya: Anlaki ng problema mo.

Maybe so, but that does not change the fact that you’re still using someone’s words and passing it off as your own. Whether by accident or deliberate does not make a difference. Failing to attribute it to the source—even if it’s as innocuous  as a status update or a tweet—is a massive failure in your part.

That the  number of people who bought in on it is a phenomenon in itself. Some even go as far as asking the culprit if they can repost it on their own wall. People, heard of this little thing called Google? It works wonders. It’ll probably even help you find your own zipper if you want to take a leak. Try it out, you’ll like it.

As for the repeat offenders, spend a considerable amount of time in social networking sites and you’d know who was literally clueless, those who don’t give a damn, and those who actually prowl the endless frontiers of cyberspace to search for materials that’ll guarantee their 5 minutes of fame. The latter, you’d just have to take your hats off for their thick-skinned immunity to any kind of shame or embarrassment this type of antic accords them.

In any case, the world’s still turning and everyone’s still breathing. There are a lot more important issues in the world that are worth discussing than this. In the scheme of things, plagiarism is not gonna kill you.

But wait till your witless friend tells that killer joke of yours in the party and takes the credit for it.

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