thoughts about sharing social networking posts

Last week I posted something on one of my sites and I saw basically my exact thoughts on someone else’s page later that day.  I was thinking about how (a) perhaps it was coincidence, (b) they were trying to reword my thoughts into their own or (c) they blatantly stole what I was saying and just shared it on their own site.

I know one day a friend of mine mentioned that I had posted something from her Facebook page on my own and I had NO idea what she was talking about because I didn’t get it off her page; it came from my aunt’s page.  It was one of those things that’s just spread around over and over… most likely no one will ever know the original source and it’s more of just a fun thing rather than anything important and it certainly has completely lost any connection with the original author.  (But I also thought that if people had left the original attribution there from whoever wrote it in the first place, we WOULD know who said it originally.)  One thing I did learn from that, however… no matter how innocent the post, I will ALWAYS say where I got it from if they aren’t my own original thoughts.  This was the only time I recall forwarding something without saying where it came from and I regretted that afterward.

So anyway, based on that conversation w/ my friend, I do know that sometimes it can seem like something came off your own page when it really didn’t.  We all have access to a LOT of information – “dangerous diversions,” I suppose Obama would say – and so obviously some of us are going to share the same things.

If it were the second option, that my friend was simply trying to take my thoughts and reword them into their own thoughts, that’s something else people frequently do.  There’s nothing really “wrong” with this, but generally I think it’s polite to at least mention that you got the idea from “so and so” (whoever so and so is…).  After all, it wasn’t really YOUR original thought – it was someone else’s.  The least you could do is give them credit.

If their intention was truly just to “steal” what I wrote and post it on their own page, well, all of us could probably (maybe???) agree that this is wrong.  In today’s world, I wouldn’t be shocked if there were those out there who still said this was OK.  I had students in my college English class who told me quite frankly that their high school English teachers didn’t care when they bought papers off the Internet or copied them from another student, so why should I?!?    Well, let me give you alllll the reasons…  Just kidding.  I’ll save that for another day.  : )

Anyway, when I write things, you may have noticed that I frequently share LINKS with my comments – often to the original news source.  I always try to use the original news source when possible.  One reason for this is that typically when you go to the original source, you’re more likely to have a more accurate version of the story.  Second, I think the person or news outlet who went through the trouble of sharing the story initially should get the credit for covering it.  They DO keep track of hits and they monitor these things to see which stories receive ratings.  I would like for them to see higher ratings on things that interest me so they would continue to cover those topics.

If another social networking friend or homeschooler or whoever sends me a link, I ALWAYS say that the link was sent to me from someone else and post the person’s name out of courtesy.  I love it when people share links with me or send me information that I might not have seen.  While I do try to stay on top of political issues – especially as they relate to homeschooling, general education issues and other “ridiculous” news of our day – sometimes I miss things.  If you send me news of this nature, I’ll share it!  If you don’t want me to mention that the link came from you, however, then just let me know and I’ll leave off your name.  I do realize that sometimes people don’t want to be associated with something, but they still would like to let others know about it.

Finally, if you really enjoy the things I post and you share them with others, please just do a “share,” post a link to my original blog post, or let others know where your material came from.  I had someone write me earlier this week and say that they couldn’t believe I wrote something myself!!  Well, you know… there are days when that’s about all I CAN do.  And one thing I can do is write.  Even if you don’t believe it, yep, sometimes I can actually write pretty well and say something intelligent.  : )  Tonight I have a horrible headache (at the base of my skull – it feels like another of what I call “blood thinner” headaches and they’re AWFUL!!) and my legs are feeling like they need to be chopped off again.  It’s after midnight and despite two hours in bed, I couldn’t sleep because I feel too bad!  So… yep, here I am – writing.  It seems that the Lord has given me the ability to write even when I’m accomplishing much of nothing else.  Perhaps it’s good that He has given me this ability.  It serves as a diversion from the pain and sometimes I can’t tell you how badly I need that!!!

Also, writing is how I make my living.  It would be nice to sell books.  I am not physically able to get out there as much as I would like and promote the books all across the US.  I would love to speak at conferences, but it’s very difficult to find an opening.  I’d very much enjoy traveling and speaking while promoting the books at the same time as I’ve done in the past, but right now finances don’t make this possible.  So basically my means of communication with the outside world is through blogs and other things I post.

Of course I don’t make much money writing and I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. When people have wanted to share my articles and such in the past in publications, I’ve always allowed them to do this, for free.  The Lord frequently places something on my heart that I feel needs to be shared and if that’s the case, then who am I to say how it should be used.  If I saved it in a file and never shared it with anyone else, I wouldn’t be obeying the Lord very well to share what he has given me!  On the other hand, it is a general courtesy of others to at least mention where they obtained the material, especially since I do not ask for compensation.  : )  I think credit should be given simply because it’s GOOD MANNERS.

I realize that there are going to be many times when there are hundreds of people talking about the same thing at the same time, but I just think if someone is going to use someone else’s post (whether it’s one line or several paragraphs), people should have the decency to provide credit to their source.  We do live in an age where this “politeness” has largely been overlooked due to the rapid advancement of technology and people honestly don’t think twice about plagiarism these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.  And it boils down to this… plagiarism isn’t just a direct quoting of someone without citation.  Plagiarism also includes changing someone else’s words slightly or copying someone’s thoughts or ideas and pass them as your own.

Chris and I were talking about this tonight as he told me about a report (that I haven’t read yet) about how we are wasting billions of tax dollars each year educating students AGAIN in remedial classes in college after we’ve already put them through twelve years of government school before college.  While lack of high academic standards is a problem, when you take character or morals out of the picture (as we largely have in most government schools), the outlook will REMAIN bleak and most likely GET WORSE.  If a student knows he can cheat (copy, lie, etc.) without it being a problem, then why should he bother to “waste” his time studying.  For some students, it’s more of a challenge to spend their time finding ways to beat the system.

If you’re a parent, be an example for your children on social networking sites and blogs:  DON’T copy someone else’s work!

If you’re a student, be original.  I’d much rather hear what YOU have to say than a regurgitation of someone else’s thoughts.  : )

Sonya Haskins


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