The disappointment of copy cats
Why be a second-rate video app when you could be an exceptional photo app? And other tales of online frustration....
Let me start by saying I’ve written many versions of this post over the years. I’ve been sharing online since 2006, so it’s inevitable this issue repeatedly comes up. People stealing my words, my photos, my content. People using my work as templates for their own. I’ve no doubt my paid-for course content is littered around the place, and all of this is before we get onto the actual scammers pretending to be me on Instagram.
Well, it’s happened again. There’s a coach in another country who’s taken the content of my Unravel Your Year workbook and passed off the translation as her own work. She first did this a few years ago — even using the exact same design — and I emailed asking her to withdraw the workbook. She said she would. When I checked out her workbook for 2023 (because obviously I’m still on her mailing list) I see she has a new design, but the majority of the content inside is still in my words. I know this for sure because when I put it through Google translate it reads exactly like my work has been translated unedited.
Whenever something like this happens I cycle through a lot of emotions — anger, sadness, irritation, exasperation, exhaustion. But the overall feeling I’m left with is disappointment. The Internet feels like a gigantic echo chamber filled with sheep bleating at each other. Anything remotely original is quickly gobbled up and replicated — just look at how Instagram’s so determined to be the new TikTok. Same with Substack — Twitter and Facebook rushed to create their own “newsletter platforms” only for Facebook to announce they’ll be closing theirs in 2023.
It’s all so weird to me. Why be a second-rate video app when you could be an exceptional photo app? Why try to be Substack when Substack is already doing it so well — why not be something different? We could argue that it’s all been done before so why bother, but that really isn’t true. There are millions of coaches and educators, millions of books, millions of songs, and doubtless millions of personal development workbooks online, so why bother making one more?
Because each of us brings OUR OWN UNIQUE FLAVOUR. Our hard-won experiences and insights. That innate light that can only be birthed out of our own body, mind and heart.
And when someone’s created something inspiring and you wish you had too? Create your own version! Make your own thing! And when you’ve done it, when it’s out in the world, credit your influences if someone inspired you directly. Give them a tip of your hat and enjoy the good feelings that abound.
Everything I make comes directly out of my head and and heart, but I don’t exist in a vacuum. I have an internet connection and I read books! So in light of that, I will now list everyone I can think of who’s inspired me and helped to shape me over the last 49 years…. I won’t remember them all, but let’s see who comes to mind…
Miss Walters, my most influential art teacher in my school years. Martin Raymond, my journalism tutor at college. Annalisa Barbieri, a journalist and editor who took a chance on me and gave me my first newspaper column. My first therapist, Jill Goodhew, who helped piece me back together. Abby Conway, my sister, who asked me to teach that original evening class in 2008. Danielle LaPorte’s encouragement in our Fire Starter Session in 2009. Nikki Hardin, who took my Unravelling course and asked me to send her a book proposal. Brené Brown for linking to me on her website back in the day.
And there’s more! The words of Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Ann Lamott, Elizabeth Gilbert, John O’Donohue, Mary Oliver, Sharon Olds, Rachel Cargle, Jon Kabat-Zin, Ruth King, Sharon Blackie, Tara Brach, Kristin Neff, Eckhart Tolle, Layla F Saad and Julia Cameron. The thousands of hours in conversation with Denise Andrade, Elizabeth Duvivier, Jo Hanlon Moores, Meghan Genge, Penny McKinley Rogers, Caroline Donahue, Genna McWhinnie, Marisa Anne Cummings, Jamie Ridler, Karen Walrond, Tanya Geisler, Rachel Cole, Bridget Watson Payne and so many others who’ve emailed, commented, DM’d and reached out a hand over the last 17 years of life online.
Thank you xo