My name is Sayani and I am not original.
But guess what? Neither is any of you.
I have been mildly bitten by the Instagram bug. I love going to aesthetic places, taking aesthetic pictures. So much that sometimes, I look at the places, explore their beauty and worth before even going there which sometimes takes away the fun out of it because nothing about the place surprises me anymore.
I had done the same thing before taking a trip to Japan, during Christmas last year. I know that Japan is not the best place to celebrate your Christmas in, nor is that the best time to visit Japan, but I am not the best on timings .
So once, I was scrolling down the profile of a digital content creator and photographer on Instagram, who had recently visited Japan and I found this one place that is not an usual tourist spot. She had this lovely picture of an alley in the back of the Shinjuku station in Tokyo called Omoide Yokocho, formerly known as the “piss-alley”. It was heavily edited, but lovely. In my mind, I was obsessed with the place and I decided, I have to do things differently, I have to go there and I did.
While I was there, I took multiple shots of that place from various angles, of people sitting on benches outside shops and eating, small alleys barely allowing two people to walk side by side, smoke from all the Yakitori being grilled, fake red leaves hanging from bare trees, lights brightening up the place and people getting drunk on the local wine, Sake.
Upon coming back, I edited my pictures, and posted half of them on Instagram. They were loved by most of my friends, some told me those gave them the “anime-sque” feels, many commented on them and one also got featured in a photography page which had a lot of followers. It was a good day for me for I had gained a few followers thanks to the feature until I got a DM(direct message) , saying ” bitch you stole my picture” .
As it turned out, the best picture of mine had a stark similarity to one of the pictures on her wall. Heck, who was I kidding. It was exactly the same with the exception of the filters used by her.
It was not something I had done intentionally, and in all fairness I had seen multiple pictures of the same place before visiting, so maybe I had a particular angle in my subconscious mind based on what I saw previously. She posted a story of my picture siding it with hers, calling me out for plagiarism. It wasn’t a big deal but it got me thinking.
Can art or even technology for that fact really be patented?
There is a paradox called “Ship of Theseus. ” Long story short, it asks a very significant question. There was a famous ship whose wooden parts began to rot, so it’s rotten parts began to be replaced with new months, and over a period of time , every part of the ship was replaced by a new one. So the question arises if restored ship still the same one or should it be considered as a new object?
On similar lines, I recently came across a Ted talk which talks about the how new art is nothing but a remix/modification of old art. He gave examples of songs of Bob Dylan and some other famous bands and singers and compared the tunes/melodies/lyrics to some old previously created song by some famous/ low-key band or person. Upon asking them about it, they said “maybe we had heard that song, and the tune stuck in my head which gave me the inspiration” , so on and so forth.
Another example in the same Ted talk was that of Apple patenting features like multi-touch or screen swiping, the idea for which existed previously as well, they just gave the idea a platform and then patented it.
All of these examples brings me to my next question ,”” Are we original?”
Everyone values uniqueness. Bosses keep pressurizing their employees to come up with original ideas, content creators on digital platforms are under immense pressure to create new and out of box content to gain popularity and views. Heck, even writing short stories on this platform to win contests require something unique to win prizes, right?
But the question still remains, “Is anything truly original?”
If we search for anything on YouTube, be it the recipe to prepare a particular dish or how to fix a broken pipe, you will get multiple suggestions on the same content. Some have the same theme, some have similar content. But does that mean they all are plagiarized from one another just because it’s not original ?
Millions and millions of people go to the same tourist spot every day, would it be really surprising even if every single one of those people have the same picture somewhere in their possession calling it their art given they all have seen the same thing?
Think of us humans. How often have we heard people say things like ,
” She is so fake.”
“She has no personality.”
“She is such a copy cat.”
I myself am guilty of having used these sentences on multiple occasion. But is it really faking? Is it really copying off someone?
In my opinion, we are not new. Whoever we are,whatever we are, it’s an outcome of the things we have seen, people we’ve met, experiences we have been through that has shaped us to be the person we are today.
It is not always necessary that we will always pick up some aspect of an experience or some nature of a person, but we will become aware of the existence of such an experience or such a nature among people .
Many a times the characters or plots that we create in our stories ,their personalities are based on someone we have seen in our life or something we had felt being around someone or some incident. Even if we are writing off characters from a recent movie or book, it is very much possible that the script writer/author had based them off someone they have a memory of in their lives. It’s a never-ending chain.
If we take a further look in our personality, we will see bits and pieces of people or things that have been a part of our lives, in however small amount may it be. You can find yourself as compassionate as your mother, or as tough as your father ,anxious like your best friend, judgemental like your parents. You can suffer from stage fright based on one incident triggered by people around you, the same incident can also make you the cause of someone else’s stage fright. Do you see the chain of events?
As it was rightfully said in the same Ted talk , we all are okay with “copying off” calling it inspiration while it is so not okay if someone else is modifying the same idea and calling it their own. I mean, isn’t that why not being an “original” person feels so offensive or calling people “fake” sounds hurtful?
My question is, why is it so hard to admit the fact that we as human beings are not original, well at least most of us. We draw, sing, write, act, invent based on what we see, what we hear, what we feel. It shouldn’t be surprising if more than one person experiences the same feeling. Isn’t that the whole definition of soul mates? Someone whose ideas, views, opinions are similar to you? Someone who has experienced similar things as you?
And you know the funny part? The idea of this story is not original either. The “inspiration” of this story came from an Instagram post of someone that said ,
“If we take a bit from the people we meet in our lives, bit by bit, at what point do we convert from a singular identity to an amalgamation of our environment.” – Saksham Khanna, a fellow colleague.