I had totally forgotten I am a thief.
Notice the two conflicting tenses there! Will I resolve the grammar? It’s a nailbiter!
This morning I was listening to a podcast with the host discussing online piracy. He ended up saying that it’s stealing, plain and simple. Which, of course, is true. And then it occurred to me. I do this. Then I felt sick.
Didn’t help that I found three stale LifeSavers (mystery flavors in a bag promotion they did with no indicator on the wrapper – just in case you were wondering) in a drawer and ate them at 8am.
I’ve written these words before but I can’t think of a more accurate representation of my thieving. Survival is not our most basic instinct. Denial is. This is evidenced by the fact that many people kill themselves thinking they are better off dead. Sure, some people probably are better off dead. But those idiots never kill themselves.
Back to my confession. I was in such denial that I didn’t realize that I had turned into a terrible person. One who steals. I wasn’t raised this way. I’ve never taken something from a store without paying. Actually, that’s not true. I grabbed a velcro wallet when I was with my mom once as a young child (five years old, I think). I walked out with it knowing it was wrong. The wallet was placed in a drawer and I never told anyone. That was the first and last time I ever stole something physical.
One other time my friend let me borrow an air conditioner and I upgraded it to a better one by trading it in. My friend had long moved away and he told me I could have it. But he didn’t say forever. So, without realizing it, technically I did steal. He told me later he never wanted it back anyway. But still.
Oh, and one time I took a box of Tic Tacs from my friend Matt Crane’s house. I totally stole that. I was fifteen.
When file sharing first came out back in the Napster days, I started downloading (stealing) music. I didn’t go crazy with it – just a few songs or albums here and there. I realized it was wrong, and after a year or so of downloading a dozen albums, I stopped. I remember feeling good about not thieving music anymore.
Fast forward eight years. I’ve been clean on music. Then, someone tells me about some documentary that I must see. I looked online for the torrent, just to see if it was available. I found it pretty quick, downloaded it, and watched it. I decided that since it was a documentary, it was somehow okay to appropriate. Denial.
Then, television shows. I don’t have Showtime but want to see Homeland. I no longer have HBO but I watch every Boardwalk Empire. This is stealing. It’s so easy. Because I pay for the crazy fast internet connection, I can download a sixty minute show in three minutes.
Lastly, software. I have never paid for a version of Microsoft Office ever. Yet, I’ve been using Microsoft Office for fifteen years. I have the entire CS6 Adobe Suite. This is a $2,000 product. I don’t use it, but still. I have it. This is really BIG stealing. Took about an hour to download.
I am really ashamed of this behavior. It’s the hardest thing I’ve shared publicly, and I’m really afraid whoever reads it will hate me. But I need to acknowledge it and change. I don’t want to be a guy who screws people over. I don’t do that in other area of my life.
So, tonight I’m removing the software and music on my computer that I have not purchased. I’m going to subscribe to those season pass things for the shows I want to watch. No more downloading movies for free.
Months ago I realized that I was stealing images online for my blog. The laws are very fuzzy about this, and most blogs do it to some extent. I never wanted to get another letter like the one from the German lawyer who demanded I take down a photo of a bratwurst that his client owned. Since then I have only used images allowed to be distributed and I properly cite sources.
I can’t believe I have turned into a thief. I’m not robbing banks or lifting the Hope diamond, but it’s not a victimless crime. Obviously I wouldn’t be cool with people stealing a product of mine.
I sincerely hope that some of you steal ramen packets from the grocery so I won’t feel like the biggest douchebag here. But, I probably am.