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I recently found out that someone took one of my blog posts and posted it on Facebook. She did not share the post. She copied and pasted it with quote marks around it. She did not cite where the words came from. She did this in a sarcoidosis support group on Facebook that I don’t belong to. Someone I know does, though, and let me know. At first I had hoped it was simple ignorance but, after finding out that the poster allowed people to make complimentary remarks about the post as if taking credit for it, I realized that this was actually pretty blatant. In addition, just about everyone on Facebook knows how to use the “share” feature, and this feature is designed not only to spread ideas but to credit the original poster…often the author. There is no excuse for copying and pasting something and not citing where it came from. Plagiarism is theft. My words were stolen.

I was pretty disappointed by this, of course. I receive a lot of positive feedback about my writing from fellow sarcoidosis soldiers, people who tell me that I am able to put in words what they think and feel, making them feel less alone. I am more than happy to share my work. I am more than happy to have my words shared by others so long as it is shared properly. My writing is a labor of love. I do it for myself, but I continue to doing it, in part, to keep helping others. It’s important to know you are not alone when you have a chronic condition.

This ridiculous act of out and out thievery made my husband take notice of the similarities between plagiarism and sarcoidosis so, I must credit him for the idea behind this post. See…it’s just not that hard to give credit where it is due. Plagiarism is defined as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.” Sarcoidosis takes our immune system and makes it its own. It takes over and takes undue credit for healing us when in fact, all the disease is doing is causing harm.

Plagiarism is harmful. It keeps people from thinking for themselves. It stifles ideas and it diminishes the value of the original work. There is nothing flattering about plagiarism. It is a violation of the creator’s identity. Sarcoidosis is also harmful. It seeps into our body under false pretenses, attempting to heal some real, or in many cases, imaginary threat to our bodies. As it takes over our immune system, it steals our body’s ability to heal us. There is nothing flattering about sarcoidosis. It robs us of our lives. It is a violation of our health and of our physical and emotional well being.

In these days the of modern social media, theft of ideas has become easier with access to information right at our fingertips twenty four hours a day, all over the world…all the time. We are so quick to believe the first thing we read on the internet without bothering to check the source. In some ways it seems like people just don’t care where information comes from anymore, and for artists of all sorts, who pour themselves into their work, this is quite disheartening. In the days of modern medicine, diseases that can save insurance companies the most money and bring in the biggest dollars for pharmaceutical companies are all the rage. Every other lesser heard of, dare I say rare, disease is left to flourish basically unchecked because little research is done on them. Sarcoidosis is one of those diseases and flourish it does in the bodies of those of us with it. And, just like with plagiarism online, little is done to stop it. As it turns out, there are a lot of similarities between plagiarism and sarcoidosis. Both are frauds, hoping never to get caught, both steal without care of the cause or consequence and both diminish the original in some form or another.

I don’t mind if people want to share my posts. I am happy if my words bring comfort and meaning to those in need. I also understand the risks and challenges of posting these words on social media. The fact that my words were taken so freely and with so little regard by someone who shares the same disease as me though, is a slap in the face because as we all already know this disease takes so much as it is. So, please feel free to share my words if they are meaningful to you, just share them ethically because this disease has already stolen enough from me.

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