Monthly Archives: March 2016

The copy-paste Generation

We are in 2016 right now. It has been close to a couple of decades since the Internet became accessible. And a few years before that the PC had become main stream. I am going to obviously talk about the title of this post, in this post. But I have to set this up a little more.

Humans have been copying for centuries. Whether it be actions, reactions, books, music, ideas, creations and everything else. Copying is coded into our DNA since the time we were primates. Most of our learning comes from copying. And most of our evolving came from understanding what we are copying and how we made the copied version better.

The propensity of man to imitate what is before him is one of the strongest parts of his nature.

Walter Bagehot, Physics and Politics (1872)

Ironically, I copied that quote from a paper on plagiarism. I did it to add more gravitas to this post. Plagiarism comes from the Latin word plagiarius which means a person who abducts the child or slave of another, a kidnapper. The word ‘plagiary’ however, entered the English language in the late 16th century – recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1598. In summary, this has been going on since forever. The definition of any multi-cellular organism is that the cells essentially create copies of itself from one single cell. Heck, we are copiers at the cellular level.

Let’s come back to the 21st century. As the internet evolved from being available at a click on our desks to being available at a tap in our hands, so has the ease with which we obtain information. Today, anyone can write really good and insightful research pieces from literally our beds without opening a single fat book in cobwebbed libraries. In essence, not only can we retrieve loads of information extremely quickly, we can also possibly improve on it, add our personal brand of insight and then relay it further down to like-minded individuals who would love the added perspective. By now you can see where I am going with this.

Right now, we have reached a stage of such an information overload that we don’t even need to click, tap or call for any information. It is fired at us through multiple pages in multiple screens limited only by our internet data plan. These come in the form of long drawn thought pieces or just plain old rants written at the spur of the moment by someone expressing their frustration, lets call them manufacturers. The receivers who are at times meant to be nothing more than just plain readers, take upon themselves the mantle of co-thought leaders and propagate these pieces verbatim (lets call them resellers). The problem I have with this is, I find it hard to believe that in any text, which is more than 25 words long or more than 5 bullet points, there is absolutely nothing that the reseller disagrees with. They merrily copy and paste it, after all it just takes a few taps, and broadcast it to their entire known universe, literally.

I really think we have missed out on the evolving part in all of this. Even our cells which copied themselves from our forefathers realised there wasn’t everything that was useful and discarded those qualities and learnt new qualities which are more relevant. We really have stopped evolving as far as our thoughts are concerned. I see the exact same message texted to me by 3 different people on 2 different platforms and I know for a fact that they are not the same people. Every one of us have different backgrounds and different upbringings. Even twins don’t think the same way as each other except in movies. Where have we lost our individuality? Even though I and my sister are separated by literally nothing but time as far as our lineage is concerned, we know we don’t think alike. Why would I assume someone who is in no way related to me, even though they might support the same team, player, nation or party as I, would by my thought-soulmate?

We don’t need any news filtering app controlled by media agencies or governments or political parties to tell us what we should believe in. All we need is our minds, a few intelligent searches and a few minutes to read. We can all make our own minds for ourselves.