Consider one question: “Is there such a thing as an original thought?”
We are a species of vicarious learners. We are innately programmed to distinguish between and identify the favourable actions of others and mirror these actions so to aid our own human progression.
So is originality something we waved goodbye to centuries ago? After all, in prehistoric times, going against convention could have had dangerous consequences of the individual being outcast, mocked or even result in their death.
But these forms of internalisation are no longer relevant in 2015. We now know all that we’re ever going to know about why building houses on a cliff face is a bad idea, or how trying to befriend a mountain lion is never going to end well.
Pish-posh time is money move on.
Then there’s the banal sense of the term ‘originality’ that’s mainly associated with dress types, colour swatches, pet names and the rise of the hipster. But all of these ‘original ideas’ will have been built upon the idea of another; whose idea would have been a variation from someone else, and the cycle continues. For instance, I don’t consider myself an overly funny person, if I can get one person in a group to have a giggle that’s my evening’s success.
But, even if I do deliver some funny anecdote or comical story, you can bet that it is at least partially recycled from someone else’s material. So I go on with my routine, praying that no one there was watching the same episode of ‘Live at the Apollo’ last night.
Mark Twain is quoted as saying: “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.”
While in many ways this quote is genius and contains the moral message one would expect from a man of Twain’s renowned capabilities, it does suggests that the mankind are aware of our copycat mentality. In simpler terms, we are fully conscious in our lack of originality.
However I would argue that there is still an element of naivety in our minds as to our own originality. Everybody wants to feel original because they don’t want to be generalised into some society shaped hole that’s been laid out by generations before us. So each time we say something that goes against the opinion of the majority, we may believe this deems us original. But in truth, in order to deliver the minorities view verdict, our subconscious brain has been working back to arguments we’ve already heard, and delivers them with a few finely tweaked ideas and ways of delivery.
Basically, we have no new ideas. But it’s what we do with the old ideas and how we improve upon them is what matters. The World is constantly changing and improving because of the innovative and collaborative ideas of human kind.
So go out today and talk about pre-existing ideas with the people you love, but put your own unique twist on them. Make them bigger, or funnier or more sparkly with all your fantastic you-ness. Because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether the idea is original, as long as it’s the best it can be.