Author: Mare Leon
Photo: André Spilborghs
Ironically, the internet used to be a corner of the world where I felt seen. Even under the layers of online alias and secret fanfic accounts, I could fully express myself. My creative dreams and desires. My coding nerdiness and insights. No one could tell me I wasn’t cool or judge me before I spoke because I couldn’t be seen, seen. At least not in the way that stops connection from happening, but in the way that frees you up enough to truly be vulnerable. I made friends and community quicker and deeper than I did in my real life. I was cautious, aware of trolls and threats, but ultimately, online forums and eventually social media were liberating. And dare I say it, safe. That is until I encountered the Copy-and-Paste People.
They’re the most insidious breed of beings birthed from #HealTok. While they prey on the weak of mind, but in the overtly offensive he-who-shall-not-be-named-Tate way, but covert. Let me explain.
They are stealthy leeches of “wokeness” who press “select all” and replicate.
Shameless in their counterfeit impressions, they thrive in deceit. To infiltrate spaces, they make compliments invitations to collect and receive more permission. Then they speak about things they know nothing about.
Beware of the Copy-and-Paste People. They’re like betrayals in disguise. The neoliberal nightmare no one warned you about, lurking in every friend group and self-care hashtag. They take up space to steal ideas, lingering to decide which identity to cosplay or movement to co-opt. They are hard to spot. Well-intentioned and informed, decked out in degrees to find the language for things they have no desire to process. They ingest and weaponize the words, turning boundaries into arguments against the very groups they claim to protect.
Strategic, always. They are masters of their craft. Picking and choosing the right phrases and inflections. They know better than to play devil’s advocate but will ask that you consider a different perspective, collecting the ones who don’t see them for who they truly are. Brilliant bullies and bystanders, desperately seeking to absolve themselves from sin. Photo ops as proof, selfies in the right light, and a dash of 23 And Me for good measure. Cultural cosplayers of indigeneity, Blackness, and racial ambiguity. Flags appear in bios to tap out of whiteness and jump into “passing” to cover up bigotry. The “suddenly queer” folks who make it hard to trust people’s expansion. They test drive pronouns to trend and say “my husband won’t mind.” And it’s a joke. Because it’s a joke. Because there’s something funny about the idea of taking it seriously.
They’re like betrayals in disguise. The neoliberal nightmare no one warned you about, lurking in every friend group and self-care hashtag. They take up space to steal ideas, lingering to decide which identity to cosplay or movement to co-opt. They are hard to spot
They simply want to be “perceived” as something so far from who they really are. They prefer a quiet rebellion. Just a hashtag here and a post there. They leave the risk for the rest of us. Never marked by a god. Never marred by law. Nevertheless, they are a safe space, filled with narratives of angst. You will have no choice but to believe them. Silence is your best defense, especially when you don’t believe them.
All in, until comfort is out. So “broke” their parents to pay the rent. So “feminist” they’re transphobic. So “progressive” they can’t see race. So mature they can “agree to disagree” at Sunday dinners with the elders who held hoses but somehow still don’t know any better. The “what do you want me to do”-ers, crying in the face of self-reflection while others face death. Pro-Black until you’re fat, gay, trans—quoting nonsense from the Bible used to keep them in chains. Love thy neighbor so much they condemn them to hell because there’s no love deeper than Christian hate.
They know better than to play devil’s advocate but will ask that you consider a different perspective, collecting the ones who don’t see them for who they truly are.
But let me pause here. It’s important to note I am not criticizing anyone who is truly doing their best. Who is questioning and afraid. Who is discovering themself with every passing moment. You and I know who you are. The Copy-and-Paste People also know who they are. This is less about who’s learning and more about who’s manipulating. The gaslighters. The Lena Wilson types crying wolf and “social power” when they clearly caused the drama. The raging TERFs who lack critical thinking. The bumper-sticker-clad liberals still praising Susan B for everything she has done for “us.” The ones who cannot make the effort to consider intersectionality.
But let me pause here. It’s important to note I am not criticizing anyone who is truly doing their best. Who is questioning and afraid. Who is discovering themself with every passing moment.
Copy-and-Paste People are vampiric predators, lacking empathy and integrity. Complex thinkers until their actions are controversial. They’re the all-white non-profit “encouraging” minorities to apply with no acknowledgment or training in place. They’re the girl boss who hates when men tell them to smile but will report the Black colleague who won’t befriend them fast enough. The “TikTok language” pushers crediting Gen Z. The influential offenders who private accounts and scream “mental health” instead of taking accountability. The ones who think justice is a non-violent favor because they respect your righteous anger — until it’s directed at them.
They are the moderate, centrist sympathizers who judge the “disillusioned” because where others only see suffering, they see “progress.” Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best.
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’”
Control and order. The true intention of the Copy-and-Paste People. Control the way they are perceived as do-gooders or neutral parties. Order as they stay calm as you belt out your rage—not to listen, but to dismiss—deciding it’s a “misunderstanding,” long before you find your words.
Beware of the Copy-and-Paste People. There is no greater threat in the online world because they will never mean to hurt you, but they always will.
Mare is a fat, Black nonbinary femme who is empowered by vulnerability and surviving through humor. they are a writer, photographer, and journeyer who enjoys iced oat milk lattes and the color yellow. | venmo: mchop88