Worst Thing I Do – A Confession


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.

That’s it.

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.


If you entered my house right now you might find a few songs I downloaded illegally and a bunch of songs I shouldn’t have downloaded legally. I’m looking your way Never Gonna Get It by En Vogue.

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

Read this next!

Comments 20

    1. janesadek  Well, that doesn’t exactly make you honest. It just makes you a technological bozo. To spend the night in the bank vault and walk out penniless in the morning, that’s the test.

  1. You shouldn’t worry about it too much. I mean, it’s okay to feel bad, but just know that you’re not the only one who does it. I was all over Napster and Kazaa etc back in the day, but my excuse was that I was  finding  music that was normally not easy to find/get. I loved Japanese anime music, and who wants to pay $30 for an import CD, right? I couldn’t even afford that, I was only a teen. And then I felt as if I was wasting money buying a whole CD for one song – I’m glad it’s not like that anymore because I STILL feel that’s a total rip off. Problem is, even now, I still steal the music. I’m not downloading whole albums or anything, still just one or two songs, but the point is, I’m still doing it. What’s my excuse this time? Well amazon and itunes of course. I’m not a freaking mac user – I don’t want my files is some damn .aac format. And Amazon DRMs their files so you can’t play them anywhere. It’s stupid. But that’s not even where it ends. My husband is the one that has the easynews account. We get everything off of there. Even movies that haven’t come out on DVD yet. We managed to find a leaked pre-release of X-Men Last Stand, and I watched it before they’d even added the digital effects. Very interesting. I used to have ACID Pro… I downloaded the trial off of their website and then found a keygen to unlock the full version, which is like… $400-$600. But then I wised up and just bought ACID Music Studio. I don’t steal software anymore. That’s where I draw the line. I’m still using MS Word 2000 because I can’t afford anything better. And that’s okay.

  2. I used to download music and tv shows.  My netbook put a stop to that by not being able to handle it.  It’s ok though because I never felt right about it.  But I’m with Kat, who hasn’t done it?  It doesn’t make it right, just normal.  As far as the pics on the blog, I try to use my own pics, but sometimes you just don’t have a pink  cheetah  on hand when you need one.  I try to turn to my Photoshop buddies to help, but sometimes they just look at you, with that look or their face like, “You want a pic of what?!?”  So I will do a search for Free pics.  I make sure to only take from sources that state right on their page that the pics are available for use and,like you said, I like to site my source and provide a link to the page for credit.  However, didn’t you recently learn about how to put your camera on you phone to use by not having a butterfly land on you?  Now may be a good time to put that to use.  (BTW, I’m  beginning  to think butterflies landing on ppl is a myth created by ppl who just like to watch other smear them selves in honey and hope and get off on watching us…er…others try to make it happen.)

  3. No… no.  You’re just fine.  The only thing that does bother me is that you hate short people (4’ll”) … and now, think you hate that I haven’t killed myself for my friggen pathetic life (because you think I’d be better off dead).  Oh never mind… just don’t steal anymore.

    1. lcarilo  I don’t hate short people. I do loathe them, but that’s different. Ha. Honestly, I don’t even notice height. My first  girlfriend  was 5’2″ and she was fine.

  4. Oh, fer fooks sake– I “steal” images for my blog all the time! Am I supposed to feel bad about that? No, if anything I’m giving these photos MORE exposure. You’re welcome, photographers!

  5. Most people don’t see this as stealing, so I’m only glad that you do and feel bad about it. Most people think it’s their right. It bothers me most when those people who do it, and think it’s OK, are then writers who complain about someone stealing their book. Same thing.  
    Apart from the moral argument, enough systematic piracy will destroy an industry because it has no income. I understand the music industry was in a spot of bother hen Napster and others started up – they were losing so much income to piracy. Itunes changed that, and games like Rockstar and Guitar Hero, because music was now easily available AND cheap, and the music industry gained additional revenue streams. People deny this (as you say, we’re good at denial) and believe that their little contribution to piracy has no effect, but if everyone thinks that, everyone does it, and everyone goes around enabling others to do it by saying it’s Ok, then yes, of course it will happen. People don’t do things for free, and we all need money to pay the bills, so if people can’t make money out of music, and software, and other intellectual property, they will stop doing it (with few exceptions, of which writers are one, having been conditioned to expect low pay anyway LOL).I’m disappointed only that so many other people seem to think this behaviour is OK. Just because everyone does something, doesn’t make it OK. If everyone was out robbing banks, is that a justification to do that as well? Maybe, for some people, it is. Need I repeat the old saw about good triumphing and evil winning?When we compromise our morals, and justify something thatis wrong as right, then we make it easier to do it again next time, maybe with something bigger.

    1. CiaraBallintyne  100% agree. I’m going to start working on a book. I guess if people start pirating it, I’ll know I’m popular! 🙂 But then I’ll be pissed at the lack of revenue.  🙂

  6. The image copyright concerns are particularly tricky. I’m a bit paranoid of ever getting a takedown notice… or maybe I have an overdeveloped sense of guilt… but that’s why I decided I would create (almost) all of my own pictures when I started my blog. It’s one way to avoid those concerns!

    1. Ellen at Defenestrated Feet  Even if you get a notice, you’ll probably be fine. Everybody does it. I just don’t want the hassle of dealing with it, so I don’t do it anymore.

  7. You know, back in the day, I too had this ultimate fixation about downloading free music from Limewire and such and never did it cross my mind that it was stealing..seeing as how people proclaimed it was just peer to peer sharing. In my defense, I basically got a lot of music that would be impossible to find in Pakistan’s stores such as we are and many a time I couldn’t even find the songs in the US either so I thought around the said fact of theft. In this country still there’s a lot of pirated stuff that would only cost less than three dollars like Photoshop or movies etc going on — it’s lack of awareness and that’s pretty sad. Anyway, it happened and it’s done and now it’s time for good conscience to rule us.

  8. Many tools are already available andd provided for free by Facebook so you can get you started.

    The business owners can target their audience depending
    upon the country, which they want to sell
    their product or service. An average America will view as many as 500 ads in one day.
    get more likes on facebook recently posted…get more likes on facebook

  9. As constantly, keep this generator free for everyone by just redeeming a single
    working code on your own. Scammers are hacking into your email,
    pretending to be you, and sending messages to your friends requesting money.
    However, if you are searching for going to tthe Niagara fall, you are asked to get a Niagara
    tour on a high end limousine – do not waste your time and go to this mind-blowing place following thee landing
    in Toronto.
    hack compte hotmail recently posted…hack compte hotmail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *