Be Yourself – Instead of 'Parroting'

Posted on March 13th 2011

Be Yourself – Instead of 'Parroting'

Can’t help wondering what so many people on social media are doing just parroting others? Or copying and pasting. And what’s worse that seems to account for part of what’s called creativity today.


A copy is never as good as the original. No parroting in the world will turn you into Marilyn Monroe. So be yourself.

What happened to creativity?

Have a section of humanity stopped being creative? Or is it just that too many people are lazy and hence just copy others? Don’t they realize that they will not impress the people they are trying to impress? Only ignorant people will buy what the parrots are doing. If you don’t have anything new to contribute, to say a discussion, don’t just re-write what someone else has already said. What’s wrong with saying that you agree?

Original ideas

If imitating others were just a social media phenomena it would be one thing. But unfortunately you have an abundance of people selling services online that haven’t got any ideas of their own. They just copy what others have done and charge for doing so. But a copy is never as good as the original. No parroting in the world will change that. It may work short term but long term it will work against you. Can’t help wondering if that category of people have really stopped thinking for themselves?

Hard sell on social media

The amount of parroting on social media most likely boils down to people believing they have to sell themselves aggressively online. Can understand that to some degree. But don’t they understand that it’s obvious to others what they are doing? Am active on social media and almost every day someone re-writes what someone has already written to make it appear to be their new idea. One interesting phenomena are the people who are experts on all issues relating to all countries in the world, regardless of the fact that they have never even visited the country in question. But copying and pasting they certainly know how to do. Nobody, including myself, knows everything so what’s the point in pretending you do? People only lose respect for you.

Current buzz words leader, expert, entrepreneurial & innovative

The fact that many people believe they have to portray themselves in what they consider to be the right way is a major reason for all the parroting. Wouldn’t it be much better to have an honest look at yourself and decide what your strengths are? If you are not say, innovative, describing yourself so will work against you since you will be found out. Read in The New York Times that 70% of high school graduates in the US believe they have more than average leadership skills. Only 2% considered themselves below average. Truly wish their assessments were correct, but unfortunately 70% of them are not leaders and will never be leading anything. If this applied to the United States only, i.e. approximately 5% of the world’s population, it wouldn’t be too bad. But unfortunately it applies to the remaining 95% of mankind as well.

Use social media to portray the real you

What’s wrong with having talents that are currently not in fashion? Whatever talents you have you can create a lucrative niche for yourself. Why does everyone feel they have to portray themselves as business tycoons? Looking at profiles on social media today you easily get the impression that the majority of people in this world are on par with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. It’s normal for children to imitate, but grown ups really should give up that habit.

Social media is a wonderful thing and I have met many fantastic people online, mainly thanks to my blog and Linkedin. If the parrots were just themselves and stopped pretending to be what they are not they would also start reaping positive benefits of social media. To start with they would gain respect. We are all unique and can contribute to society in different ways. That’s the beauty of humanity. Imagine how boring it would be if we were all parroting each other.

Photo credit: mseckington – Flickr


Catarina Alexon

Catarina Alexon is an International Businesswoman & Writer. She has worked with corporate communications, media, PR, marketing and business development all over the world.
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Posted on March 14th 2011 at 4:47PM

This is a good article Catarina and one lots of people should read! I've thought this often and find myself, but quickly stop myself, feeling like I "need" to be like others to succeed. It's very intimidating when you look at the whole picture, but no so much when you break it down.

I do feel you can "model" certain attributes that define the success of some, but be careful to keep true to your own identity. Take a little here and there and mold it to what's the best fit for you and be OK with being you. You're so correct regarding the whole "respect" issue ... the ones who march to the beat of their OWN drum will do just find and earn the respect of those around them.

I'm grateful you wrote this post! Have a great week!

Much kindness,


Posted on March 16th 2011 at 1:04PM

Good points Elena. Just don't use the buzz words leader, entrepreneur, expert and innovative if they don't apply. Far too many people do.:)) And in reality their expertise only consists of copying and pasting. 

Posted on March 15th 2011 at 5:40AM

What if one's identity is comprised solely of parroting behavior?

Shouldn't everyone have the right to do as they please (within reason) without being chastised in a self righterous manner? Not to mention the fact that sometimes one finds an alternate path during their emulation of others...

How many technologies have been built upon and bettered by someone who initially copied someone else and then had their "Eureka" moment?

Yes, one should always aspire to greater heights, but jumpstarting one's vision through imitation isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Posted on March 15th 2011 at 12:02PM

I'd have to commend your article Catarina.  More and more people are getting succumbed to parroting just to be able to give their marketing campaign a faster move on.  What they fail to realize is that despite the thousands of content that may have been published on a particular topic, being yourself makes one stand out from the crowd.

Posted on March 16th 2011 at 1:06PM

Glad we agree Andrew.

Posted on March 16th 2011 at 3:45PM

Good points. For your brand to truly be yours it must come from the heart - it must express what you are passionate about. What makes you truly you. It can then be spread consistently across all your marketing documents, comments and activities in groups and discussions, and in interviews and interactions. No one is a good enough actor to pull this off if they are simply parrotting what someone else has said or written. As to your point Anonymous - fine, start with something that has a basis in reality for you; however, don't be stagnant, build on the base that someone else has started and make it your own. Great inventions are never one persons total idea, it is the culmination of many ideas. Same with branding. Build your own - there is no one else who is you. Looking forward to the next post. Sabrina

Posted on March 16th 2011 at 5:47PM

Good points Sabrina. 

Do keep in mind though that some inventions are completely the product of one persons ideas. Those ideas are the most difficult to make other accept.  

Posted on March 18th 2011 at 12:06AM

Am I a "parrot" if I Tweet your excellent article?

Posted on March 19th 2011 at 5:28PM


Am I a "parrot" if I Tweet your excellent article? 

That's parroting for you Anonymous::)) Of course you are not. But if you copy and paste the article I wrote and post it somewhere claiming to have written it, you will join the army of imitators. 


Posted on March 18th 2011 at 3:13AM

Very well written.

Most people are addicted to the opinions of others so they will take the safe route and copy/paste what others have already said and have received accolades for.

True leaders say what needs to be said regardless if they have the support or not.

Posted on March 19th 2011 at 5:25PM

Agree with you completely Brian. 

But even worse are the guys who don't know what they are talking about but are convinced they do. And if you don't agree with them they get nasty and insult you. Happened to me when one guy explained to me that they have bedouins in Afghanistan??? Where? You find them on the Arabian Peninsula. But he had been aboard a US war ship in the Persian Gulf (never ashore) so he knew all about bedouins. 

Vany Laube
Posted on March 19th 2011 at 12:47AM

Great post!  And, as per I can read... this does not happen only in Brazil. 



Posted on March 19th 2011 at 5:32PM

Thanks Vany. Would be great if it only applied to one country in the world, wouldn't it? :)) 

Anyway, the parrots will regret what they are doing in the not too distant future. Already now companies are starting to use new software that enable them to see exactly what a person has done on social media and online. And once we all use such software the parrots have ruined their reputation online. Search engines record everything and don't forget. 


Posted on March 20th 2011 at 11:46PM

Great article, I am finding many blogs that I read & subscribe to are just copying each other in ideas and concepts. I wonder sometimes if people are just lazy or maybe they really don't know anything, so they are parrots. 


The best is be yourself..Maybe being a parrot is being themselves.