You won’t like this post. But keep reading anyway, and know that I’m being just as hard on myself as everyone else.
Selfishness isn’t something we have to be taught. We come by it naturally. Little kids don’t have to be coached not to want to share their toys, or their juice, or their mommy. It’s in our blood, probably because the first sin was selfishness.
“You can be like God!” said the Serpent.
“Awesome!” said Eve.
Well, maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that, but you get the gist. And here we are, shut up in our own little world, wanting it to be all about us and being displeased when it isn’t.
People are more selfish than they used to be. I can tell. You know how? I’ve been on the internet a long time. I remember when social networking was about sharing ideas and having in-depth, thought-provoking discussions and your friends really were friends! You knew them, you interacted with them, and you built relationships with them.
Then Facebook happened. It seemed like a good idea at the time, except instead of sharing ideas and discussing things, it was mostly all about… you. Your pictures. Your friends. Your hobbies. Your stuff. Then came Twitter. Even more about you. What you had for lunch. What movie you just watched. What drives you nuts. Only Twitter was even more awesome because… no one had to answer you. You could feel important even if you weren’t!
And something happened. Actual social interaction dwindled. Blogs stopped getting as many comments. YouTube stopped having as many hits. Forums dried up. Fanfiction.net burst with stories but not feedback. Why? Because we were suddenly all so busy and so important that we didn’t have time to affirm one another. It is all about what they can give me, as opposed to what I can give them. If commenting won’t get me any attention, why comment? Sure, I liked that music video… but I’m too busy to type ten words and tell them how much I liked it. That was a great story! Nobody has told them that. But I’m busy. So busy that maybe the most I can do is hit “like” on Facebook or Tumblr, but maybe even too busy for that.
But you know what? Other people need me. Everything that is shared on the internet has a person behind it: a person who needs affirmation, who needs to be loved, who needs social interaction and feedback. Stories on Fanfiction.net don’t write themselves. Music videos don’t just magically appear. Tumblr graphics do not simply spring out of a creative bank in PhotoShop. Blog entries do not write themselves. It can be incredibly difficult to pour your heart into a project, to be excited about it, to want to share it with others, and have no one act as if they even care. Maybe they did look at it. Maybe they didn’t. But a heart can wither up and die waiting for just one person to say, “Well done.”
So start saying it. If you like something, tell them so. Make them feel good. Even if it isn’t something you care about, make a point to tell them that you treasure their passion for their topic. Hit that “like” button if it’s your only option. If it isn’t, take a minute out of your not-as-busy-as-you-think-it-is day and bless them.
Ours is a narcissistic world. But when everyone is a narcissist, no one gets affirmation. Narcissism is a lonely way to live. So reach out. Love someone. Bless them, even for a moment.