An Original Profile

originalprofile.jpg

My SL profile hasn’t changed much since the day Whiskey was created in ’09. In fact, the Real World tab is the same as my original SL avatar, created in ’06. I am an avid profile perv, and a carefully crafted profile says a lot to me. I enjoy the clues and signs that people leave in their profiles, and I’ve always felt that mine accurately represents my virtual self, and in turn, who I am in any world. Our profiles should be a one-of-a-kind  representation of our personal face to the world. Each one a special unique snowflake.

Which is why I was so shocked when a friend accused me of having an alt, because he saw someone with a profile identical to mine.

By the time I opened her profile, she had already changed the wording of the first tab a bit (after being called out by my friend), so that it was no longer word for word a copy of my own. But SL doesn’t change things right away in search, so I could still see part of her profile there and sure enough, there were my own words in her profile. The first life tab, however, was still an exact replica of mine.

calle profile

This isn’t the first time someone has swiped my words, I’ve been writing long enough to know that the internet is rife with people who think it’s all up for grabs, theirs for the taking. After all, it’s a just a few words. Most people think that if they change a word or two, it’s no longer plagiarism. And besides, it’s just a profile. It’s not as if she’s stolen great literature, right?

It doesn’t matter. Whether it’s a tweet of 140 characters, a line from a profile, or an entire article- plagiarism is stealing. Period. There is no grey area here.

Plagiarists hate being called out on their thievery. My profile thief was no exception. In fact, her strange defense was that she found it on a website, so really she didn’t steal it from me, she took it from them. So how can I be upset by that? Out of curiosity, I googled my profile, and it is not on any website except for Second Life. But I already knew that. When confronted by the person they’ve stolen from, thieves rarely come clean and admit their wrongdoing. They’re instead defensive and upset that someone would dare question their integrity.

Because let’s be honest, that’s what stealing someone else’s words does, it shows a lack of integrity and honesty. And even someone who lacks those hates being reminded.

I wasn’t going to blog about this. It seemed petty and over-reactive. I asked her to change her profile to her own words, and despite fiercely denying any wrong on her part (and in fact threatening me with public shame for calling her a liar), for a week or so she did change it. But I looked today and she has again changed her profile to something very similar to my own. While it’s no longer word for word, it’s close enough (especially after her complete copy before) that it really irked me.

callie mocha

Over the years I’ve had tweets, parts of blog posts and even my photographs stolen. Each time there are plenty of people who are quick to offer up that old, stale saying about imitation being the best form of flattery. That’s bullshit, and this wasn’t imitation. Flattery is when someone shows your work to their friends and gives you credit. It’s not flattering to have someone disrespect your hard work so much that they think it’s okay to use it as their own; in fact it’s the opposite of respect. It’s offensive and disrespectful on every level.

And I find myself, each time this happens, doing some deep soul searching to figure out why it bothers me so very much. But I shouldn’t have to defend myself, to explain why it makes me angry to have something that’s mine pinched and used without my knowledge or permission. I have every right to be upset, and the amount of work stolen has no bearing on how angry I should feel. Stealing is stealing. You can pretty it up and make it less shocking by calling it appropriating, borrowing or pirating, but in the end they all mean the same thing: stealing. Claiming ownership of something you’ve no right to.

So it doesn’t matter why it bothers me. It’s not up to me to try to work through my feelings on the matter.

If anyone needs to be doing some soul-searching, it’s folks like Callie Mocha who think that what they’re doing is okay. People who can’t come up with an original idea, and so they must steal the ideas of others.

I haven’t contacted Ms. Mocha again, and I probably won’t. At this point it’s useless, I believe. I tried to be at least civil when I originally asked her to change her profile, but her defensive and accusatory response shows me that reason isn’t chief among her repertoire of social skills.

Tomorrow that could all change. But  not the part about the reason.

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47 thoughts on “An Original Profile

  1. I won’t even insult your intelligence by saying “Copying is the best for of flattery” because a quick IM or note saying “I love what you wrote…” is so much nicer. By the way, love what you wrote….and I am sorry someone snagged your stuff….that is tres annoying. I hope your day goes better…..Ignore her. -smiles-

  2. I like cookies too. Chocolate chip laced with black walnuts ! I know it’s blood pressure raising and you are right to be pissed but nice goin’ to out the perp this way :)

  3. Krysta: ‘sincerest’ is not always ‘best’. ;)
    I have never understood why some people out there just steal a whole chunk of text and claim it as their own. But I’m perhaps overly committed to going the opposite way, myself.

  4. Well, as I have always said when confronted with false imitations, stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage; Then lend the eye a terrible aspect; . . . . Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit to his full height. Pep (Go, girl!)

  5. There is always someone with not enough wit, imagination or originality to steal your stuff, your looks, and, yes, your words.
    There are such things as vampires… they are emotional vampires….those that suck your empathy out of you and those that steal your culture … this woman is a cultural vampire.

    You fill her emptiness and she’ll suck you dry given half a chance.

    I’ve always prided myself on my originality, but some people are just cultural sluts.

  6. There’s no puzzle about why you’re mad: it’s not just stealing, it’s a form of identity theft. A friend of mine had something similar happen to her, right down to a similar name (ohhhh, the *cough* advantages of having one name, not two). But try as your half-wit imitator might, she’ll never have your photographic eye. *That* takes imagination.

  7. Whiskey, you speak for all of us who have had parts of our profiles deliberately stolen by others. I agree that those who wish to don the personalities and traits of someone else by stealing their words, are not imitating or flattering. They are being personality vampires. Thank you for blogging this.

    (Stellar Starship thanks you too : )

  8. Good you brought this up. 1 of my FORMER friends and now my stalker is exactly like this. A vampire. He (dressed like a fat woman avie) cheats and steals and are convinced he is not doing anything wrong. He even googled my rl then claimed it wastn breaking TOS because he did it OUTSIDE sl >.< as if. I have never had any contact with him outside SL and the only thing he knew was the kind of dog i have. My mistake. Vampires acts like this. argh! you go girl! Hugss

  9. I explained to Ms. Monday after she IM’d me and demanded that I remove “her words” from my profile that I had no idea who she was until earlier that morning when an unknown male sent me a message accusing me of being with a man AND of being her alt. I found the …oops…her…”words” on a blog/website outside of SL several months ago , and thinking they were cute, I used them. I apologized to Ms. Monday and as a courtesy, said I would change my profile, even though she has no proof the “words” indeed did originate from her. Apparently, an apology and changing my profile were not enough/acceptable to Ms. Monday, as she then used her blog to draw attention to herself and her SLebrity via defaming me.
    Applause applause, mission accomplished !

    • You defamed yourself, Callie, the minute you put words on your profile that did not originate from you without giving the person from whom they did originate specific credit for them, even without so much as a set of quotation marks. Soak in the shame; you’ve earned it.

    • It doesn’t matter I’d someone is known or quietly musing in their Second Life. Plagiarism is plagiarism.

    • Sorry you’re bitter that you stole something and got caught. You really have zero of the high ground here, and anything you continue to righteously spout off (is someone else writing these replies for you, too?) just digs it deeper.

      Be yourself. Use your own words. Speak for yourself.

    • Liar liar, pants on fire. But, you are to be pitied, because it’s really sad you aren’t even remotely clever or capable of writing your own profile. That’s your identity, and clearly you have none, you have to steal from someone else.

  10. The saddest part about this is that you actually think you have a point on defending what you did. Is it so hard to believe that those were her words? There weren’t yours, in any case. The very least you had to do was giving proper credit, instead of coming back and having the brass neck to accuse her of stealing. In other news, I doubt Whiskey needs you or your drama to draw attention to herself. Do yourself a favor and stop feeding your ego with others words.

  11. I apologized and removed the words. If they were her words, why were they on a Tumblr website sticky note…because they were copied from her profile? Because they aren’t “her words” …who knows! Excuse me for making the mistake of copying words from a generic Tumblr site seven or eight months ago and not adding quotations. I understand y’all are above being human. I changed the profile AND I apologized …why then use your perceived SLebrity to bully an “unknown” into doing what you want? She demanded and I complied, yet here we are feeding her and possibly your ego. Enjoy the extra blog ratings.

    • It’s not “bullying” when the person in question has stolen from you. No one is pushing you on the playground or calling you fat. She’s saying you stole something from her. You did. True facts.

    • “why then use your perceived SLebrity to bully an “unknown” into doing what you want?”

      Well, congratulations… you’re now known. As someone who uses other people’s words without attribution.

      Oh, and as someone who calls an influential victim a “bully” when they call your ass out for it.

      (Seriously, kid. It’s “Don’t Be A Dick” Day. Just put a sock in it.)

      -ls/cm

      PS: Her SLebrity isn’t perceived. It’s quite real. Comes to all of the meetings, too. Brings fresh-baked muffins.

    • I probably shouldn’t give you this advice, but … “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” (Attribution: Denis Healey)

    • Oh, also. “Swiper, no swiping. Swiper, no swiping. Swiper, no swiping.” (Attribution: Dora the Explorer).

  12. @ Callie Mocha: I think matters are further complicated when you don’t commit to one stance over the other. For example, claiming to have made an apology, while making the front page of your inworld profile say, ” Blogger Bullies Suck (I said that).” Get off the fence. In my experience, internet plays are best made “all in.” You either go hard line and say “fuck this and fuck all of you too” or you exit graciously with an apology that isn’t hobbled by baggage, whining, and insincerity. You like performances dramatique. Get in character and chew the scenery. Anything else is weak sauce…and chum for netizens. My words.

  13. “If you must write prose or poems,
    the words you use should be your own.
    Don’t plagiarize or take ‘on loan’.
    ‘Cos there’s always someone, somewhere,
    with a big nose, who knows,
    who’ll trip you up and laugh when you fall.”

    – Morrissey

  14. @ Callie Mocha in reference to your PM: I’m all over the place, chica, and much the same wherever I go. Feed, forums, blogs, inworld, Second Life, Utherverse, Twitter. I’m easy to find. And…hello.

  15. Simple solution. Sit down, think about those qualities about yourself that you want to share with someone else. Then put those qualities into words. Your own words. It’s not terribly difficult.

  16. I’d feel better condemning Callie Mocha if the text she lifted wasn’t so, well, trite.

    Mostly I think profile copying is the resort of SL’s Christians to its Cyranoes to seem more appealing. A sin more venial than venal ;)

  17. how many people in history do you think have arranged those words together? do you think that you are the first person to do it? have you copyright that arrangement of words? if not, than nothing has been stolen, anyone can arrange those words together in the same order and they don’t have to pay royalties to you.

    maybe you are stealing the arrangement of the words “chocolate” and “cookies” having one before the other, why are you not giving credit to the first person that put them together? why do you feel that you have the right to use that arrangement of words in your blog and your profile if you don’t know the first person that put them together? can i call you a “thief” for that?

    what do you want to copyright next and claim you arrange them first, the words “how are you” with a question mark at the end?

    • You evidently aren’t very “up” on copyright and I for one am too lazy to ‘splain or sum up to you. Please Google it a little.

      In other, unrelated news: I think I see whence Crap’s LEA approval came…

  18. Your profile is something that should say something about you. It’s supposed to give someone reading it an idea about what it would be like to interact with you. To copy the profile of someone else is to present yourself as someone you aren’t. In other words, copying a profile that doesn’t belong to you is a lie spoken to everyone who reads it. You will attract people who are looking for something you aren’t, and that is not likely to end well.

Talk to me, people.

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