The idea that nothing is original anymore is, itself, not original. This has been expressed in many different ways but perhaps most poetically expressed in the Bible:
“That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes (Bible)
It is hard to believe that with over 6 billion people alive today that any individual can think of something that over 5,999,999 others have not thought of. For the most part I believe this to be true but there are some things to be taken into consideration – the news isn’t all bad.
First of all, although any individual idea may not be original, combinations of ideas can be very original. In fact, the greatest ideas today are unique combinations of concepts.
Take the average Hollywood movie. Chances are you have seen a movie with a similar plot before. Hell, James Cameron received a lot of flack for Avatar because it had a similar plot to a couple movies. In reality, all he did was take a universal story and applied it in a novel way. If people were that sensitive to similar stories, chick-flicks would be non-existent. How many of those have original plot lines? Not many.
The good news is that although there are no truly unique ideas on their own, the combination of ideas or repurposing of ideas can still produce fantastic outcomes. So all you entrepreneurs out there, steal like an artist.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch:
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.”