Is Imitation really the Sincerest Form of Flattery?

Long time no see! With a MacBook that needs a new battery so won’t turn on, and lots of blogging at work, I needed a little break.

To come back to this, I decided not to just review another eyeshadow palette, or talk you through my skincare favourites etc just yet, I thought I’d discuss something a bit different. Copying.

They say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, but is it really? Copying off someone else’s test or homework when you were younger, wasn’t because you admire their work ethic, but to further your own academic career. The other person was just a means to an end.

In my eyes, imitation is only flattery when the original owner/user etc is complimented or something along the lines of recognition. I honestly don’t mind people doing what I do, or wearing what I wear, if they tell me. If someone at least says, “I really like what you’re wearing, where’s it from?”, or “that’s a cool idea, maybe I’ll join you!” then fair enough. You expect the person to copy you, but that really is flattery. I’m one of those girls that likes when me and my friends match as well, so I’m not bitter about clothing if it’s made explicit.

What really winds me up is when people go behind your back and do something you’re doing, without telling you, leaving you to notice yourself. In my opinion, this is bang out of order. If you’re really a true friend, and you like something one of your mates is doing, not telling them but then copying them is just really rude. You’ve clearly noticed them doing something, gotten jealous, wanted the same results for yourself, and tried to undermine them. This isn’t a friend in my eyes. Something you’ve worked so hard on, or put yourself out doing, then being copied by someone who can’t even bring themselves to mention it to you, is sneaky AF and really stings.

Clothing? Fine. Ideas, actions, things to further your career? Not ok. I’ve worked so hard to make myself employable throughout my life, and to have someone pretty much imitate your life (admittedly without the same results) is just undermining. I’m not saying that I’ve done anything revolutionary, but I’ve been directly copied in lots of things to the point where other people I didn’t expect would comment “oh, haven’t they done that now as well?”. I didn’t mind this for ages, I wasn’t brought up with the mentality to keep things a secret, until I noticed this build up to the point where it looked weird.

My experience has really gotten me down at times, but there are loads of cases where imitation is actually illegal, so you have to really laugh at the person copying someone. Replicating someone’s work, material or intellectual property is illegal, an infringement of copyright, and downright stupid. If you’re putting your name on something, or publishing something that was written by somebody else (not in an essay etc), you need to cop on and do something else because whatever it is, clearly isn’t for you.

Only in some cases, where the thing being copied is materialistic, is copying. That doesn’t mean it’s any less f*cking annoying, but anything more than that stems from just plain bitter jealousy.

I understand that in business, imitation is a part of life. You’re always wanting to know what your competitors are doing, how they are doing it, and if they are doing it better than you, but that’s how it will always be and that’s how businesses succeed. On a personal level, human to human, it’s super annoying and hard to swallow when you see someone suddenly interested in something you’re doing, having never mentioned it before.

I have also learnt the value of collaborative work. Feeding off other people’s ideas and discussing what is best. By doing this, it not only creates synergy but creates a good atmosphere. Being surrounded by people or someone who uses your ideas without mentioning it to you, isn’t a healthy way to live.

Maybe the full Oscar Wilde quote, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, that mediocrity can pay to greatness” should be the commonly known one, because imitations can never be as good as the original. Innovation, not imitation. People who did this to me or anyone, instantly used to get my back up, but I am trying to change my feelings about this as it can lead to a very paranoid mindset. So whilst you’ll probably experience this at some point in your life, you’ve got to try and take comfort in the fact that it’s a replica, and other people will notice as well. Take the high ground, and let them look silly.

Ultimately, I think that imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. It is more like the sincerest form of jealousy.


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