I in no way shape or form encourage any acts of stealing. The following post answers no questions as to what's wrong or what’s right about stealing but serves as a trigger to get you thinking. These are my views and how I feel about the topic, any opinion is welcome with open arms.
The topic of stealing is an endless debate, but a good one non-the less. There is no doubt that there are different levels of stealing all with their own repercussions and risk. However does that justify one form over the other? I don’t think so.
Frank and Ron walk into a bookstore. After looking around for a few minutes they leave and Frank has stolen three books that he is interested in. Ron looks at him and says “Frank bro you really have to stop stealing man; its not good”. Frank looks at him and says, “ What are you talking about everything you do isn’t “good”. Don’t you download music and movies for free online? Your no better then me”……. And the debate begins.
Stealing definitely has its levels of severity, there is robbing a bank pointing a shot gun to peoples faces, robbing one individual with a weapon or using brut force, there’s taking a cup cake from the deli and there’s downloading music/movies online. These different levels are based on a couple of things Risk, Work, and who you are affecting. Any form of stealing comes back to these three points, which is basically what defines it as theft in the first place.
Each act of stealing comes with its own risk, and the people doing the act are most likely aware of these risks. Risks are what usually determine which form or level of stealing someone is willing to do. Most people are willing to do the low risk acts of stealing such as downloading content (music/movies/books etc.). However when you raise the stacks a little and talk about going into a bookstore and stealing a book it is automatically deemed as the worst thing someone can do. One thing people don’t consider is; what happens if the person doing the act minimizes the risk of getting caught, does that make it more expectable? If Frank checked for cameras, made sure no one was looking and removed all alarms from his books which brought him down to the same risk factor as Ron downloading content, why is Ron so disturbed by Franks act?
Stealing is not something you can do with your hands behind your back and a blindfold on; it requires work! Obviously some acts require more work then others. Another deciding factor as to how and what someone will steal is how much work do they have to put into it, and does the work justify the means? Most people think of downloading music and know it is a 1,2,3 step process, very simple and straightforward. However stealing a book from a bookstore sounds like a lot of work and robbing a bank sounds that much harder. However work is subjective and what one person perceives as hard work may come natural to another. So if Frank considers the work that goes into stealing a book to be 1,2,3 simple and straightforward, just as Ron sees downloading content, why is Ron so disturbed by Franks act?
Who you are affecting:
One thing is certain and that is that stealing always affects someone, whether it is the person doing the act or the person or establishment being robed. When you steal a book from a bookstore or a cup cake from a deli it is obvious that the owner of the store is the one being affected because they are losing money. When you rob a bank you not only affect the bank but also you affect the people you are pointing that shotgun at. When you download content online you affect the person who has worked hard on that content and expects some sort of compensation for his/her work. Although doing something like downloading content may seem harmless because it’s virtual theft and you don’t actually see whom you harm, the truth is that someone is still being finically affected. Some may even argue that downloading content affects its creator even worse then stealing a book or a cup cake affects the owner of the store. I am inclined to agree. The way I see it is when you download content you are much more inclined to pass that content along then you are a book stolen from a store. If you were to download a song or movie and then you pass it on to your friend and they pass it on to theirs; it becomes a chain of theft that you started and you pushed forward. This leads to the owner of that content loosing a lot more then if just one person had stolen his/her work. So if Ron downloading content affects someone just like Franks act does and potential even more, why is Ron so disturbed by Franks act?
Downloading content online is still punishable by law, because it IS stealing. However not everyone feels this way. Some people are ok with downloading music and movies but won’t dare to steal a book from a bookstore. Why is this? To be honest I can’t tell you exactly why but I can tell you this. Stealing physical items has been frowned upon for as long as anyone of us has lived. When we were young we were told not to steal because it was bad and you go to jail, we all have heard it before. But tell me this, did you grow up hearing “don’t download music and movies because it’s illegal and you can go to jail”. Very few if any of us have grown up hearing these words. I believe that this has something to do with the way people (the ones downloading the content) think. We learn what is right and wrong through society as we grow and develop. As the Internet and sharing content online grew and became more popular most parents understood less and less about it and its potential, therefore there was no or very little guidance on how to conduct ourselves in this new virtual world. However as time goes on and internet usage becomes more and more standard kids will grow up understanding and believing that downloading content IS stealing and it is held up to the same standards of going into the store and stealing a book, a cup cake, money etc.
I feel that stealing is stealing and which level or form of it you choose to do is irrelevant. You are no worse or no better then someone else because you choose one form over another.
We have all stolen something before, whether it was a song we downloaded, a candy from a store, or a piece of food off your relative’s plate. I am not passing judgment, I just want you to open your eyes and see.
“You have to know to be a hypocrite” -Lupe Fiasco