Friday, February 3, 2012

On Proper Citation

Check Yo Source Befo’ You Wreck Yo Source*

 

This morning I saw a cute little chain-poem floating around my Facebook news feed. It’s a sweet little number on the importance of nurses. And it’s also true; nurses are rather important people. Here’s the poem as I read it:

About NURSES:
Somebody asked: "You're a nurse?!? That's cool, I wanted to do that when I was a kid. How much do you make?"
The nurse replied: "HOW MUCH DO I MAKE?" ...
I can make holding your hand seem like the most important thing in the world when you're scared...
I can make your child breathe when they stop...
I can help your father survive a heart attack...
I can make myself get up at 5AM to make sure your mother has the medicine she needs to live...
I work all day to save the lives of strangers...
I make my family wait for dinner until I know your family member is taken care of...
I make myself skip lunch so that I can make sure that everything I did for your wife today is charted...
I make myself work weekends and holidays because people don't just get sick Monday thru Friday.
Today, I might save your life.
How much do I make?
All I know is, I make a difference.
Repost not only if you are a nurse or you love a nurse, but most importantly, repost this if you respect their work!!

 

See, isn’t that nice? Now, for those of you who know me, or at least have literacy skills somewhere in the realm of “observant,” you have probably figured out that there’s a problem here: this isn’t an original work; at best, it’s a mimic and at worst it’s plagiarism.

No, I’m not a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Shut up. Go read the poem again.

Done? Good. Now watch this Taylor Mali video:

 

Notice the repetition of the phrase “I make…” all the way through to the end. This repetition is really the only case I can make for the above poem being a mimic. It fails in every other aspect of mimicry: in particular length and tone.

Ah, tone. Listen to Mali. He’s an unmitigated fireball exploding on that stage. That is nothing but pure passion for what he is saying. Whereas the nurse version, outside of a moment of “Z0MG AWL CAPZ!?Interrobang!!?” lacks that passion. It’s sweet. It’s nice. However, it lacks passion. 

To take this further, this poem doesn’t work as a mimic because absolutely nowhere is there any reference to the original work. Someone somewhere tried to pass that cutesy thing off as their own work. “But what if it was submitted anonymously?” you may be asking or I may just be prepping a response to such an argument. Well, to that I say someone cowardly tried to pass off that poem as an original work.

The truth is, plagiarism is never cool. Passing off work as your own and/or not attributing works to their proper sources is the sort of thing that makes baby kitties cry. Do you want to make baby kitties cry? Do you, you monster? If you said no, then you’re a good person and should probably maybe not pass off other peoples’ works anymore, ok? If you said yes, then you should seek help. Maybe talk to Dr. Phil.   

 

*I toyed with a few different subtitles for this post. These deserve honorable mention:

  • Every Time You Plagiarize, God Green Lights a Michael Bay Movie
  • Just Because It’s Cute Doesn’t Make It Yours
  • How Basic Google Searching Can Get You In Trouble (Sans Sex)
  • Public Domain Doesn’t Mean What You Think it Does
  • That’s Not Yours. Put It Down