It used to be that intellectual thieves simply stole people’s creative labor and passed them off as theirs. Well, that still happens. But in the frenetic, exhibitionistic world of social media, plagiarism is taking newer, more insidious, and less explicable forms.
Now, people shamelessly pirate other people’s original thoughts, strip the thoughts of the names of their original authors, post them on their timelines (or share them on WhatsApp and other closed forums), and pretend to be ethical by prefacing the word “#Copied” to their intellectual robbery.
But “Copied” doesn’t deodorize your ethical rottenness. It doesn’t minimize your dishonesty in not acknowledging the author of the thoughts you shared. It doesn’t vitiate your intellectual corruption. On the contrary, it aggrandizes your moral turpitude, your cognitive laziness, and your utter spinelessness. If your mind is too barren to conceive original, share-worthy thoughts, why do you deny credit to people who have taken the trouble to exert their minds and share their thoughts publicly?
An emerging and more sinister iteration of this social media virus is the practice of falsely attributing authorship of people’s thoughts and ideas to well-known people who didn’t author them. It’s a spinoff of the “Copied” intellectual roguery. People see a post that they like, which is authored by “Copied.” Since “copied” is not the name of any human being, they invent the name of any well-known personage that catches their sterile fancy and falsely give credit to him or her.
I’ve been a victim of both forms of social media plagiarism. For instance, my name has been stripped from my July 27, 2019 column in the Nigerian Tribune titled “How Political Power Damages the Brain—and How to Reverse it.” It was initially prefaced with “Copied” and is now attributed to Pat Utomi. Although the very first sentence of the column says “I was one of seven professors who facilitated a leadership training in my university here in Georgia for local government chairmen from a major Nigerian southwestern state,” which indicates that the author lives in the US state of Georgia, the vulgar, low-IQ herd who shared the article on their timelines (and WhatsApp) nonetheless attributed it to Pat Utomi who lives in Lagos, Nigeria!
Before me, Inibehe Effiong wrote a clever, punchy post about how one’s education is a waste if one can’t transcend narrow ethnic, religious, and regional loyalties. After first stealing it with “Copied,” people now attribute it to either Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman or Dr. Chuba Okadigbo.
It’s now customary for Nigerians to seek people’s permission on Facebook to share their public posts. I’d always wondered why people would seek permission to share a post that’s already public and that people have already shared through Facebook’s “share” button. It later dawned on me that they’re seeking permission to copy people’s posts, deny them authorship, and preface “Copied” to the posts. What sort of cognitive sickness makes people do that?