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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Column: Unfortunately, this column is not about how pretty I am

You wouldn’t trace a Van Gogh and tweet a photo of it claiming it as yours.

Abigail Fisher

March 19, 2014

The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.

This past week I witnessed yet another example of something I hate. And in the spirit of my own generally unpleasant demeanor, I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s 500-word ramble to just that.

As you might know, I am an avid tweeter and follower of other tweeters. I view my Twitter feed quite often. One of the hundreds of tweets I read on March 12 read as follows: “If we're honest about it, Make-A-Wish should really be called No, Make A Different Wish.”

Now, something you might not know about me but every close friend and acquaintance in my life likely knows is that I am a very big fan of comedian Sarah Silverman, and I recognized this quote as a line directly from her November-released HBO special “We Are Miracles.”

So I did what anyone who is Abigail Fisher would do and called this guy out. I might or might not have overreacted by using the words “smut” and “stealing” and quite a few capital letters. I will admit, some would call what I said “rude” or “mean” or “something only a fire-breathing vampire bat would say to its eternal foes.” But my methods are beside the point. This column is not about me (but if it were, it would probably be more focused on how difficult it is to be as intimidatingly pretty as I am).

Anyway, the guy whom my tweet was directed at was quite unhappy with me.

I can only assume his anger came from his being found out. Now everyone who follows him knows he’s not nearly as creative and witty as they originally thought. Who could blame him?

But, as with most experiences in life, I wanted this to serve as a learning experience for him and anyone else who makes the same mistake he did — and you guys, too.

You see, comedians work pretty damn hard. They are not just jokesters or people with a knack for making off-handed comments. They are, in the purest sense, writers.

Robert De Niro said the following of writers in his presentation of the Best Adapted Screenplay award nominees at the 2014 Oscars:

“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”

I can confirm this, and I’m sure hundreds of the journalism students on this very campus can, as well.

So I have two questions for you:

  1. If writing is so awful, why does anyone want to do it?
    Please let me know when you have an answer, because I’m still trying to figure that one out for myself.
  2. Why would anyone take credit for the work of another, knowing that the process of writing is so terrifying and takes such dedication?
    Beats me.

You wouldn’t trace a Van Gogh and tweet a photo of it claiming it as yours. You wouldn’t point to the Sears Tower and tell someone you built it with your own bare hands.

No one is clever when they copy and paste some text from a Tumblr post or transcribe something from a sitcom into a Twitter bar. No one should feel good about deceiving however many followers you’ve lied to and cheated your way into pressing the “follow” button and taking time out of their days to read a 140-character burst of someone else’s brain matter.

I mean, you wouldn’t plagiarize a paper for class. That would get you ejected from the university. So don’t do it on social media. Just because there isn’t a risk of wasting thousands of dollars of your parents’ money doesn’t mean it’s OK.

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Article comments

March 22, 2014 at 2:59 p.m.

Harold: I see that you post song lyrics as tweets but don't use quotes or cite the musician. What's the difference?

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