I’m not sure what else to call it.

I’m talking about the phenomenon where by if you spend enough time around people, you often find yourself picking up their mannerisms, their sayings, sometimes even their way of talking. Personally, I have noticed this in myself many times, and it’s led me to believe that I am particularly absorptive. Like a good name-brand paper towel, I seem to soak up whatever eccentricities are around me.

On a number of occasions, when speaking to someone with an accent, I have found myself slowly beginning to imitate them. This happens entirely involuntarily, and would almost certainly be read as mockery, so I have always snuffed it out a few words into a sentence, and hoped that my slip has gone unnoticed.

There is, somewhere, in one of these increasingly beat-up cardboard boxes, a video tape of home movies from my trip to Kenya, when I was 19. I was the cameraman far more often than not, and also often a narrator. The extent to which I sound like my friend Amanda (who I had been hanging out with a lot, prior to my trip) is unsettling. To be fair, she does have a fairly distinctive way of talking, at times, and I’ve seen other people who have spent a lot of time around her pick it up.

I wonder to what extent this behaviour varies between people. Is a tendency to imitate those you spend time with a sign of adaptability? Maybe it is a manifestation of insecurity. Making yourself more easy to like by making yourself more like… your new friend, your new coworkers, or to fit in in a new country. That theory holds some water in the latter case, but not so much in the former. Perhaps two or more forces are playing together to make me so prone to this sort of accidental mimicry.

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