Why Do We Share?


I’m more active on social media these days and I wonder why. Up til now I’ve been timid of activity on facebook. Most folks don’t give a flying fig about the comings and goings of their facebook friends. My friends, for the most part, are, like me, voyeurs – rarely posting but always looking. My sudden surge in social media activity could be related to the fact that the sun hasn’t shone all summer for more than 3 days in a row (my husband is counting) or I’ve had more than a week or two at my own home and am not needed elsewhere.
So, after days in the house, alone, I reach for the laptop. And as I reach for the laptop, I realize I am … reaching out. I feel a disconnect. I want to reconnect. So … (deep breath) …  I begin to share. Thus far nothing I’ve posted has brought ruin to my household or disdain to my family, so I’m breathing easier now.
In kindergarden sharing was one of the first lessons we were taught. We learned that sharing is taking the high road on the trip toward the greater good; accusations of being selfish would bring a tot to tears. We practiced this lesson; albeit some of us more than others.
Years ago upon moving to a new town and a new cul-de-sac, I watched my young son giving away his pixie stixs to neighborhood children who had appeared to check out the new kids on the block. His careful one-by-one doling out of his beloved confections to one grubby hand after another is forever branded in my brain and heart. He had lived all of four years on this planet, most of the time as a pure-tee hellion, but had learned that to get along in the cul-de-sac, a kid would be wise to share.
Hastings sharing (2)
Hastings sharing tiny
His sharing continued and we continued to wonder. This kid was compelled to share. On awards day in kindergarden he received a ribbon for a small-tyke athletic achievement. A classmate and on-the-playground competitor of his was devastated that he did not win the award. My son, five years old by that time, and deeply feeling the heartbreak of this other brat child, simply walked over to the child and gave him the ribbon. No thought, no hesitation, no remembrance of playground bullying – he just shared. His generosity apparently blew away the teachers and the principal, as at a later date he was given a better, superior citizenship award extolling the virtues of being a nice guy.
cit. award 2
So why do we share?  Do we feel elevated by sharing? Does it make us feel better about ourselves? Or is it that we really do care about the person or persons on the receiving end of our sharing?
My grandmother, well into her 80’s and living entirely on her social security check of $585 a month, continually practiced care and sharing for “old, poor people”. She never realized the irony of this. She didn’t have material goods to share but she more than made up for it in sharing her care – in the form of a chocolate pie or a pan of biscuits. She also shared her opinions and pity her preacher or children or grandchildren who were on the receiving end of those opinions. But all the sharing was doled out with genuine care for others.
            Sharing nowadays in this social media centered world has a different connotation than the types of sharing of my young son and my grandmother, but I think it’s all for the same reason.  We’re not egotistical maniacs when we share what we had for breakfast or pictures of a family vacation. We want to be connected to others. We care about others enough to share with them.

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