I have a theory. It goes like this: If I remain naïve enough, I’ll never get old. If that’s so, then I just found the Fountain of Youth.

The German writer, Thomas Mann, once said: “It is impossible for ideas to compete in the marketplace if no forum for their presentation is provided or available.” Given that he lived from 1875 to 1955, I don’t imagine it ever occurred to him to question the sources — or the very definition — of ideas. But question we must.

It seems, much to my naïve surprise, the sources and the definition of ideas have changed. So has the presumption of originality. It appears we now live in the age of PLR content, in which PLR stands for private label rights. You’re probably way ahead of me on this. But the implications are profoundly unsettling.

Case in point: Take a few moments to absorb and comprehend the sentence in bold type below, the emphasis on which, by the way, originates from the source:

Quality website content extends beyond rewriting or “spinning” PLR articles for uniqueness. In order to shine, online content should be useful, well written, and relevant to readers. Professional sounding Web content and articles impress readers while original content impresses Google. Writing content for readers first, search engines second is a SEO content strategy that works over the long run.

That’s right. We no longer require native, substantively meaningful, or original content that accurately and genuinely reflects the differentiating singularity of our brands. Uh uh. We don’t even need professional content. All we need now is professional sounding language — counterfeit content that impresses our readers. That’s as cynical a concept as I’ve ever come across. And it’s at least as insulting to our readers as it is cynical.

By that logic, I’ve wasted every moment I spent writing this post and believing it reflects the personal convictions that inform my brand. I could have cribbed the content for the post from any of the content available here. I could have bought it here. Or I could have randomly generated it here and here.

It’s ironic that I just re-read Animal Farm this past weekend. It’s ironic — or serendipitously synchronous — because George Orwell also wrote this:

[Marketing] … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind. (Politics and the English Language)

That statement is cynical, too. But it’s no more cynical that it is prescient. Its prescience has been fulfilled now that PLR has erased the line between cynicism and truth.

PLR is the Walmart of content: It obliterates any value in or accruing to brand. And the age of PLR is The Age of Cynicism.

Go ahead. Call me naïve. In addition to younger, I’ve just become proud of my naïveté.

By Marcus Quigmire from Florida, USA, Fountain of Youth, uploaded by Princess Mérida, via Wikimedia Commons.