To Share or Not To Share

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Yesterday I was driving south, coincidentally right after a torrential, yet brief, downpour dusted my little town in a spring rain. I drove by many homes glowing with sunlight as the clouds moved away, revealing blue skies and the smell of wet grass. It was one of those moments when everything looks so much more fresh and lovely than it did before the storm. Ya know what I mean? The rosy pink and orange streaks that crossed the sky were so pretty I  felt like I should pull over and take a picture of them. As I felt that, I realized this is something I often feel compelled to do when I see something beautiful or funny. I’ve been that driver slightly drifting to the left side of my lane as I try to find a gap in the trees to take a good picture or grab my phone when someone I’m with is doing something ridiculous. I want to share it, tweet it, send it, and paint it on the walls of my mind. Why is that? Why do I feel like every moment should be captured and shared with the world? Is it because of how I’ve been raised or is it because I live in an over-sharing generation?

Sharing is a very basic concept we’re all taught at a young age. Sharing toys, snacks, jackets, time, and the back seat with someone is what most of us have grown up reluctantly doing and understanding. I can’t tell you how many times I was sent into time-out because I refused to share something with my little brother. I mean, can you blame me? He was strange then and he’s strange now. Things haven’t changed much and I still don’t really like compromising over the property lines of the back seat.

As I was thinking about this yesterday, I realized sharing isn’t just relevant to those moments when you had a box of animal crackers and a few to spare, but is also now relevant to the information, pictures, and ideas each of us share. We are social beings, and are therefore naturally inclined to Instagram a photo or a moment from our day, tweet a thought, and post good or bad news to Facebook the second it happens. If you think about it, social media, news, magazines, conventions, and nearly every aspect of social life is catering to the idea of sharing. At this point, it’s not just a kindergarten lesson with a box of crayons. Sharing is something that has the potential to determine a person’s future, for the good or for the better. It affects who we surround ourselves with and who we become.

My entire life, and also yours probably, revolves around sharing. If you’re reading this right now, you’re reading my ideas and thoughts I’ve chosen to share because I think it’s fascinating to study how people work and how people make similar choices. And because I’m sharing these ideas with you, perhaps you’ll think differently, which may change how you think about life as a whole. It’s intoxicating to understand something bigger than yourself and I’m sharing these thoughts with you to encourage that very concept. We celebrate dates and moments with our friends and family because of what we all experienced on that day. Think about anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays, full of shared traditions and memories as time has continued. Looking at my life as a whole, I see that what I share and who I share it with create my identity. That’s a little crazy to try to understand, but it’s true. My identity is found in what I believe and my actions, but it is my experiences and shared moments that have created those beliefs and dreams. You and I were created by a shared love and we will die having shared our lives.

When I finally got to Target after this whole realization, I felt like I’d just cracked the code to life. I was overwhelmed and I just sat back, probably looking like a weirdo in the parking lot, and thought about every aspect of my life. You and I spend our days sharing everything with the people around us, and now I see that perhaps we should learn to value what other people share with us. I’ve learned that maybe you and I should stop and take a picture more often, to smell the roses if you will, and share what we see and how we see it. So to answer the question of why I feel like every moment should be captured and shared with the world, I see now it’s because I was created to share, and you were too. Perhaps how you and I think is directly related to what others have shared with us. And maybe those things we choose to share should more often be out of love than of hate.

So when you start drifting to the left side of the lane as you’re trying to get a good snapshot of that sunset, you’ll probably laugh to yourself and maybe take a little pride in yourself as you hit “share” on Instagram.

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