Why do we share?
We live in the Sharing Age.
What we uncover, discover, taste, smell, see and love and hate is shared, sometimes with three, sometimes three million.
I have personally struggled over the last 15 or so years with the openness the 21st century has brought us.
I worried it would steal some sacredness, erode some awe, wreck some wonder.
As an intensely personal, somewhat private and a perfectionistic individual, since the turn of this century I have spent miles of gray matter engaging in furious debates with myself over: if, how, what, when and where to share. These discussions always began with hearty arguments over why to share in the first place.
Was my writing worthy? What did it matter what I thought or how I saw the world? What if someone stole my ideas?
All notions based on that notorious old bastard F.U.D. – fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Regardless of this, and at the same time, over the last seven years my personal journey has encouraged me to begin sharing.
When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I started updating friends and family with a Caringbridge blog. I could answer the “why” of that easily – it held a clear purpose, a utilitarian means to an end to keep my mother’s vast network of loved ones informed of her health.
But there was more. That practice of writing eventually put me in a new place of possible, one where I allowed the idea that writing about my own life might have merit. Inspired by the quiet at the end of the year (as I always am), I created a personal blog, Modern George and Mary, which morphed into my master’s thesis project. Again, my thesis made the niggling and ever-present “why” easier to contend with.
From there, I began sharing on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook – in that order. And the world did not end, the sacred things were not lost, and the awe and wonder were held not less awesome and wonderful.
Now, as a writer/journalist turned public relations, marketing and communication exec turned brand consultant, I share frequently.
But, dear readers, I ain’t over it. I don’t have it all figured out. And I have regular re-engagements with good ole’ FUD.
When I share I worry its:
- adding to the noise
- not perfectly executed
among other things.
I have released that sometimes my musings may be those things. And that’s OK, too.
At the same time, in sparkling moments of encouragement, people talk about what I share. Wow. That, within itself, is everything to me. They tell me, in heartfelt conversation and hushed tones that connote the impact had, that my writing has touched them. That it has been profound or evocative or inspiring.
They quietly share with me that they admire my openness, my art, my choice of words.
I’m always flat-out stunned by this as I frequently delude myself into thinking nobody is listening when I share. It’s a strategy that makes it easier for me to defeat FUD and share anyway.
So after all these struggles, little victories, and self-ballyhooed belly flops, I am left with two thoughts.
First, if you struggle to share, that’s OK. So do I. All I offer is this: when and if the time and temperature feel right to share something, loosen your grip on FUD and listen. Ask yourself, “Could someone, somewhere in the world, feeling the way I do, benefit from hearing this?”
The purpose of sharing is not about you. Not really. It’s not meant to give you a greater sense of your own happiness or reflect a reality you would like to be true all of the time (no reality is reality all the time).
The purpose of sharing is like giving. It’s much less about you – and much more about what’s in your heart, and how you convey that. It’s about who you give to and the process of selecting, composing and wrapping the gift.
As with any gift-giving, you must first put your heart in the right place. And then, consider the heart to whom you are giving.
For me, the purpose of sharing is to touch the open and to open the closed.