The copy and paste personality

Sonnie Bailey

23 August 2019

The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. – Kurt Vonnegut

When I first heard the phrase “copy and paste personality”, I thought it was pejorative. It referred to someone who couldn’t think for themselves, who simply spouted off the ideas/jokes/etc of others.

Since then, I’ve changed my colours. I think we’re all copy and paste personalities, and I embrace it.

We might occasionally have the bright idea or two in the moment, but most of what we talk about with others isn’t especially new. If we’re talking about ideas, we’re really repackaging the ideas of others, or we’re reciting our own cached thoughts.

Frankly, the person who tries to come up with their own thoughts on every topic in the middle of a conversation isn’t going to have a lot of great ideas. It’s hard to have a rewarding conversation in real-time with someone engaging with a whole cascade of ideas from scratch.

The question is what we copy and paste, and how we do it.

This is revealing. The better your sources, the better the material you’ll be stealing.

This reflects your interests, what you pay attention to, and what you prioritise enough to remember.

What you choose to copy and paste reflects who you are.

 


A complete aside:  I quoted Kurt Vonnegut at the start of this article. He’s a great author.

My favourite Vonnegut novel is Cat’s Cradle. After I finished reading the book, I felt like I’d lost a friend.

For a long time after reading the novel I considered myself as a Bokonist, and I was taken by Bokonism’s central tenet to “Live by the foma [harmless untruths] that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.”

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