Intellectual property is an abstract, intangible thing. It is a noun, to be sure, but not the kind one can steal or destroy, only create. In the film The Social Network, however, some people try to suggest otherwise. Accusations are made, fights break out, and people loose friends over an idea sparked with the intent to make friends. But I feel that intellectual property becomes public property once you release it from the depths of your mind.
Society is built on the collaboration of the ideas and thoughts of many. No one individual is the center of the universe, whose word is law and governs the nations with their immense brainpower and limitless skill for problem solving. Society is dependent on newer products, bigger payoffs, and better solutions. Once you put out an idea, suggestion, or thought, –no matter how simple or complex—even if no course of action is taken to make it a reality, then it is still out there. You cannot take it back and keep it for your selfish self, the now public opportunity is the responsibility of humanity. You make a car, I will make one better. You build a tall building, I will build one taller. Competition is the way of life and it is the natural order of human beings. Romans were excellent borrowers and improvers, and they lived thousands of years ago. Without them compiling and refining ideas, we would not remember them.
People get so caught up in themselves that they often forget the bigger picture—especially people from low context, individualistic societies like the one I am so privileged to come from. We create new fantastic things that my grandparents would not have dared dream about, incredible things that have so vastly improved our lives that we have time to worry about how many Facebook friends we have, instead of whether or not we will eat today. And yet, we still find things to get upset about and whine to each other like children on the play ground shouting “she stole my idea!” No, she heard your idea, and then improved upon it.