Copycats | INFJ Forum

Copycats

Asa

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As a person who can be described as unique or individualistic, how do you feel about copycats? Are you flattered, or does it annoy you? Or does your emotional reaction depend on who is copying, what they're copying, and why?

When do you let it go?
How do you, or how do you suggest, confronting copycats?
 
I try to remind myself that copycat behavior is a neurotic form of admiration.
Different contexts can feel nice or terrible depending.
Unwanted disruptive copycats are not fun but if you clarify(to yourself and/or them) what's specifically disruptive about it that kinda helps to navigate things.
 
I've known an acquaintance for a long time. She took the safe route in life and later tried to make up for lost time. Like a lot of people who are denied living as who they really are, she's making up for lost time, and is in a stage her peer group outgrew in their twenties. This stage includes attention-seeking behavior and is hyper-focused on image and "being cool." I understand this, and I have empathy.

It began with her copying my style.

Next, she started a new artistic hobby. After a while, she started using my subjects and acting like that was HER thing, and she was THE person who does this. Again, I'm not the only one doing something along these themes, but she definitely crossed boundaries.

After that, we had a conversation where she said, "I'm going to do X." X = exactly what I do. She backwardly stated that she plans to copy me (by describing what I do.) She plans to sell her work.
I was angry, but calmly suggested she give it more time, and maybe she'd find a subject that resonates.

Today she used (an edited out) phrase to describe herself that describes me, what I do, and my persona, but does not align with her life.

So, she is now dressing like me, copying my art, and copying my overall public identity.

I embrace and search for people who share interests. I love like-minded people. I don't want to be unique or rare. I want to be with "my people." But I mean my genuine people.
I don't appreciate posers. I've had many issues with copycats over the years, and sometimes it is flattering, and other times it is not. In this case, it seems to be getting out of control. I feel like she is trying to become me, and when it comes to stealing my identity as an artist, I get bristly. My work is genuine and deeply personal.

She also copies other lifestyles, claiming to be LGBTQX in a tongue-in-cheek way and saying she is part of races/heritages she doesn't belong to. (She's been called out for this.)

She identifies as INFJ because the type is rare, but her stack her stacks reads ISTJ. She seems to lack Fe and doesn't seem to care how other people feel. She can be scathing about not caring. She writes lengthy and beautiful, heartfelt prose about her feelings that scream Fi to me. Her key traits read sensor to me, and align with other confirmed ISTJs I know. There are a lot of people who cherry-pick INFJ because they want to be rare, and they're sort of in their own MBTI grouping. I'm not too bothered by this. It's just another layer.

I've never door-slammed anyone for anything short of repeatedly and obviously violating my boundaries and acting harmfully toward me, but I keep considering this as an option. It won't stop her, but at least I won't have to see it. I also know that some occurrences in my life recently have caused my tolerance of others to decline temporarily. But even though I see that I need to improve and get back to my standards of grace, my lower tolerance also lets me see what may not be good for me to be around more clearly.

Edited to be vague because I don't want to dox myself.
 
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@Asa

It sounds like she's found that her tank has run dry, and maybe she's carrying the weight of what she feels are wasted years. I suppose it's understandable that she's becoming a bit of a vampire to try and fill up the vacuum in her life again, but it's not a good or a forgivable strategy. There's more than a hint of envy in what she's doing, and that can be very destructive.

Is she genuinely trying to find a completely new platform for her life, but is completely lost on the how? - or could this be more a sort of power game? If the first, then she needs help to find her way without stealing off someone else - but if there is some element of the second in the subtext of her behaviour then her win is, at least in part, if she sees you losing something important to you. I don't know if it's possible to help her, while at the same time defusing this possible game. It feels potentially like it could be full of toxic possibilities. If you are comfortably secure in your own professional and social position then you are OK, and can maybe use humour and the support of other and closer friends as a shield. Personally though, I would keep things at double arms' length because life's too short to be messed about by other folk's stupid games.

I'm extrapolating quite a bit here - so these are just some thoughts to play with.
 
Clearly this girl is lost. You may be right about her wanting to make up for lost time and be the twenty-something she never felt she got to be. I had wondered if you'd asked her if she was aware that she was copying you, but that's a very tricky thing to do without causing an incident.

Blatant 1 to 1 carbon copying could be annoying though, I won't deny that. Especially if it continues without end.

If it's aggravating you to this level, perhaps you should just try not to spend time with her. Let her find someone else to copy.
 
I was never cool enough to have that problem.

Sounds annoying af though, like you’re her latest “phase”. How long do those last btw?

How is someone so grating to you so close within your circles?

I’d just find a million reasons to distance myself.
 
It sounds like she's found that her tank has run dry, and maybe she's carrying the weight of what she feels are wasted years. I suppose it's understandable that she's becoming a bit of a vampire to try and fill up the vacuum in her life again, but it's not a good or a forgivable strategy. There's more than a hint of envy in what she's doing, and that can be very destructive.


This is how I see it, but she is also inconsiderate, which makes it more complicated.

If you are comfortably secure in your own professional and social position then you are OK, and can maybe use humour and the support of other and closer friends as a shield. Personally though, I would keep things at double arms' length because life's too short to be messed about by other folk's stupid games.

To be blunt, I know it wouldn't bother me if I were secure. I have things going on in my personal life that wear me down. As much as I love life and try to keep the PMA, it does affect me. I worked extremely hard to salvage my career, which was off track for many years. It's starting to go well again. My life and eclectic interests are finally starting to come together in a truly organic, effortless way. I'm gaining a name for myself again, and I'm finding my people, but I'm not quite there yet. I see why my rising success would be attractive to others, and I understand why the life my SO and I chose would be attractive to people who longed for that choice but made more conventional choices. I want to be clear that either choice - the risky one or the stable one - can be a great choice and the right choice, but if you want the one you didn't choose, you're going to be unhappy.

People copy and cling to successful people... and I mean success in any realm, any topic of life... but I don't think I'm there right now and it does feel vampiric to mimic me right now. Let me get up there on my ladder a bit first, thanks. LOL! I guess I don't have a choice when it starts, though.

I was never cool enough to have that problem.

Sounds annoying af though, like you’re her latest “phase”. How long do those last btw?

How is someone so grating to you so close within your circles?

I’d just find a million reasons to distance myself.

Being cool is subjective. You're cool if you're doing something other person thinks is cool. I've always thought you were cool.

It's because I'm part of a subculture (reluctantly at this point), and that social circle inevitably includes 'everyone' who is also in the subculture. I am not close to her, but she is part of my social circles.

This also has something to do with how I assess people and I've learned this is a neurodivergent trait, too. Despite having a strong sense of right and wrong, I'm fairly tolerant of people and lack the ability to see ranks. I'm very good at sensing danger, evil intentions, trouble, etc, and have zero tolerance for it... but if someone is just in the range of "normal", I let them exist around me. I realized a few years ago that this wasn't a good idea, but....

Maybe she'll use me as a springboard to find herself.

Clearly this girl is lost. You may be right about her wanting to make up for lost time and be the twenty-something she never felt she got to be. I had wondered if you'd asked her if she was aware that she was copying you, but that's a very tricky thing to do without causing an incident.

Blatant 1 to 1 carbon copying could be annoying though, I won't deny that. Especially if it continues without end.

If it's aggravating you to this level, perhaps you should just try not to spend time with her. Let her find someone else to copy.

I haven't seen her in person since before Covid, so my next move is to hide/avoid her on social media and see how it goes.

Friends influence each other and mini trends start in friendship circles, but this feels like an invasion of the body snatchers. I've had people imitate my style before... and I've had people copy my work before, but nobody has tried to copy me to this extent... and copying my work bothers me more than the other stuff.
 
I always tell my kids when someone is copying something that can take it as a compliment. They like what you have/created and want the same. In my feeling this keeps the copycats still underneath the creator.

But in your copycat case I would probably also try to increase the distance to her.

Another question came into my mind: Do you think she might also enter this forum? :smilingimp:
 
Another question came into my mind: Do you think she might also enter this forum? :smilingimp:

I've wondered this for years, but she isn't here, or at least doesn't make her presence known.

The thing about the forum: People who want to find an INFJ-compatible community flock here. People who are attracted to being an INFJ because it is synonymous with being rare don't. They aren't looking for community.

It is a risk, though, yes.
 
Thanks, everyone.

I can definitely find copying flattering or cute and can be unbothered by it, but in this case, it is irksome. It feels like a betrayal.

This is something that happens often in the arts, though, and all you can really do is work harder. (And punch them in the face, please?)

I used to show at a gallery in NYC that picked a different theme every XXX number of months and invited artists of their choice to participate. I showed at this gallery a few times. While I was advertising for one of these shows an acquaintance unfollowed me on social media and never spoke to me again. I quickly figured out that he had made art in the same unusual theme a few years before. I'm not sure how I missed it because it got a lot of press in underground art circles. The gallery probably got the idea from his work. I consulted a few peers about it and they advised me not to apologize. I felt like a jerk.
 
@Asa

Just thinking about it, there is another possible strategy, but it depends very much on how you see yourself, and how confident you feel in your own gifts. Children learn by imitating their parents, and it can be very amusing to hear our grandkids coming out with adult phrases and body postures that they've obviously got from mum and dad, or their nursery school teacher. I expect we all of us still behave and articulate in ways we have copied long ago from our parents and others. Instead of feeling threatened by her, you could act as though you are adopting her as an 'apprentice', and offer her coaching and advice on the internet. This could put you in control of the situation and establish an appropriate hierarchy between you. It may be a lifeline for her as she tries to build a new persona for herself and, if that is genuinely what she's trying to do, then she'll move on to do her own thing eventually.

It's not for the feint-hearted, and depends on what she's really trying to do - but I think you'd make a really great mentor for the right sort of person. Whether she's the right sort is another matter though.
 
Just thinking about it, there is another possible strategy, but it depends very much on how you see yourself, and how confident you feel in your own gifts. Children learn by imitating their parents, and it can be very amusing to hear our grandkids coming out with adult phrases and body postures that they've obviously got from mum and dad, or their nursery school teacher. I expect we all of us still behave and articulate in ways we have copied long ago from our parents and others. Instead of feeling threatened by her, you could act as though you are adopting her as an 'apprentice', and offer her coaching and advice on the internet. This could put you in control of the situation and establish an appropriate hierarchy between you. It may be a lifeline for her as she tries to build a new persona for herself and, if that is genuinely what she's trying to do, then she'll move on to do her own thing eventually.

It's not for the feint-hearted, and depends on what she's really trying to do - but I think you'd make a really great mentor for the right sort of person. Whether she's the right sort is another matter though.

This is a good idea. I'm not in the position to mentor anyone right now because I'm merely rising from the ashes of my self-destruction/rebirth. (I mean my career self-destruction.) When I caved and gave her style advice and resources, she did not thank me or let people know I helped her with her new look, so I'm guessing an artistic mentorship wouldn't benefit me in this case.

I've mentored, encouraged, and been supportive of artists in the past and they have publicly thanked me in artist statements or podcasts. This is unexpected, but also very much how I operate. I am thankful.

I could keep sending her ideas that I believe match her aesthetic and interests more closely, though.

Hopefully, I'll be harder to imitate as my work grows.
 
Stay away from her..point blank. It will literally suck you dry. She doesn't want to be herself for SOME reason. You have relationships, status, etc. SOMETHING she wants for herself but cannot seem to achieve or obtain by herself.
 
My first reaction to this was that being upset at a 'copycat' is not terribly legitimate from a moral point of view. You believe that you have ownership and 'possession' over certain interests, aesthetics, combinations thereof, &c., and wish to gatekeep these from others.

If this doesn't cross into the realm of intellectual property, then what you're arguing is essentially something like 'this person dilutes my identity and my perceived ownership of it by doing what she's doing'. There are a lot of issues with this kind of stance in life that aren't particularly healthy, and lead to the construction of a fragile ego.

You mention several things 'offhand' in a way that suggests you wish to generate mystique and the appearance of high status, and your concerns are principally of this type. It might be worth just exploring why these things are so dominant in your psyche rather than trying to blame someone else who is simply exploring another identity and taking from what ste sees around her.

This person probably does not deserve your ire.
 
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If this doesn't cross into the realm of intellectual property, then what you're arguing is essentially something like 'this person dilutes my identity and my perceived ownership of it by doing what she's doing'. There are a lot of issues with this kind of stance in life that aren't particularly healthy, and lead to the construction of a fragile ego.

I edited out quite a bit of my description to remain anonymous, but the theme here is that I'm a professional, and she is copying my style, persona, and intellectual property and plans to sell her copies of my work. As a professional, I do have "ownership" of my own work. I included the other aspects of her copying to show that copying is a large part of who she is.

I do not gatekeep communities and ideas. I definitely consider copying artistic intellectual property "plagiarism" and "stealing," though. If you think a person doesn't deserve my ire for this, maybe you should read up on US copyright laws.

I openly admit I'm in a vulnerable place right now, which long-time members/friends here certainly understand and they know exactly what I mean.

My desire for mystique is simply my desire to remain semi-anonymous on the forum.

Thanks for your amateur psychology session, though.
 
It seems like a lot of people have an internal monologue, and that makes them susceptible to something akin to the debunked pseudoscience of neurolinguistic programming, or hypnotic suggestion. Essentially, if people get a verbal equivalent of an earworm, or summary statement integrated into their mental monologue, they'll repeat it and believe it.

The afore mentioned having been said, I sometimes inadvertently word concepts in the form of truism style sayings. It's a sobering reminder to me, to be careful not to abbreviate what I'm saying too much, when I've heard friends and work colleagues repeat something I've previously said verbatim days or weeks afterwards.

I raise the morality of the influence one can have on others (whether it's intended or unintended), because people will tend to copy (copycat) what others are doing or saying. It's something to be aware of, so one doesn't become a bad influence on others, or end up manipulating people, which is severely disrespectful to them.
 
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It seems like a lot of people have an internal monologue, and that makes them susceptible to something akin to the debunked pseudoscience of neurolinguistic programming, or hypnotic suggestion. Essentially, if people get a verbal equivalent of an earworm, or summary statement integrated into their mental monologue, they'll repeat it and believe it.

The afore mentioned having been said, I sometimes inadvertently word concepts in the form of truism style sayings. It's a sobering reminder to me, to be careful not to abbreviate what I'm saying too much, when I've heard friends and work colleagues repeat something I've previously said verbatim days or weeks afterwards.

I raise the morality of the influence one can have on others (whether it's intended or unintended), because people will tend to copy (copycat) what others are doing or saying. It's something to be aware of, so one doesn't become a bad influence on others, or end up manipulating people, which is severely disrespectful to them.

This is a really good point, Matty. This happens to everyone. I also know that (a lot of) people need to see images multiple times to notice them, and they'll believe they're seeing it for the first time.

I've witnessed people changing stories to make themselves more important in the events, but they don't even realize they're lying. The story morphs in their brains over time. I don't want to get specific due to privacy.

Growing self-awareness helps us become more mindful of who and what influences us and make conscious decisions about it. When you make a living off ideas or when you're creative, it is important to keep track of where your influences end and where you begin. I guess that is why writing AI services have plagiarism checkers, though.
 
Copycat Spectrum
I think that the trouble in dealing with copying is that there is a spectrum of motives that runs from admiration and apprenticeship, through flattery and praise, but can then cross over into theft of another's creativity - and at the far end of the spectrum are bullying, social dominance games, and stalking. There may not be a fine dividing line between these things and the intent may well be a blend of the positive and negative aspects, particularly where some measure of jealousy is mixed in with admiration. It seems to me that when the problem is focused only on your private life it's complex enough, but it's even less straightforward to respond to copying when your own public media presence and your own professional credibility are maybe impacted.

So I don't think there is a simple answer - it depends on what the motives are behind the copying, what the impact is going to be, and what sort of response is both effective and generally acceptable to oneself and to others.

Artistic Differentiators
Something that occurred to me a few days ago after re-reading the posts here, is that to be successful professionally as an artist needs more than talent. I remember reading a very good article about what is essential to be successful as a photographer, and the message was that you need to be very good technically and compositionally, but you need to be very good at the commercial and marketing side too. The contacts you build up, the way you interact with them, the confidence they have in you and the way your reputation is established within your profession are all important and absolutely essential. This is not at all easy to copy, even if someone can copy your style reasonably well.

I suppose that in these days of ai generated images, making pictures'in the style of' is going to become common, but again there is a flaw here. As far as I can see, it's not just the style that distinguishes a good artist, but the choice of subject and the way it is interpreted. Even with a tight commercial commission there are an infinite number of ways the subject can be interpreted and presented. This too I think is much harder to copy than basic style, particularly as good artists are evolving and developing their style and choice of subject all the time.

So all told, I think that a combination of commercial assets, and the choice and interpretation of subject, are going to differentiate from a copycat, no matter how well they can produce a similar image technique-wise.