American Culture

#SharingSaturday #SharingForAFriend

See a friend creating or otherwise in need of a signal boost? Give it!


I have a great idea.

No, really. I know it’s me, but this is great. I don’t pat myself on the back often, believe it or not (I’m quite hard on myself, really), so if I think this is great, maybe there’s something to it. You decide.

Now, I don’t know if you use Facebook, or what other social media you might use, and maybe my observations are too narrow to generalize well. I just don’t know. But. And this is a touch delicate, maybe, so just bear with me here, just in case this actually turns great. Have you noticed that you might have this talented friend, and occasionally they post evidence of their talent, and you might like it. You might even love it. Or maybe it’s just not your thing, but that’s cool. It’s nice that they have a thing. Everybody needs a thing.

And maybe their posts of their things, and remember these are things your friends presumably enjoy tremendously and feel enthusiastic about, maybe these posts get some likes. Maybe a love. Sometimes a wow. There might even be some discussion.

But have you noticed whether or not they’re getting shared?

Wouldn’t be great if your friends’ creative achievements were more widely known?

I can’t tell from my own myopic little view of life on the internet if what I see is typical of everyone’s else’s experience, so maybe the idea is less great than I think if it’s really not that big of a deal, but here’s what I see. I see friends of varying degrees of talent, some bordering on genius (I don’t want to look like I’m just flattering here), posting the fruits of their creative endeavors, sometimes but not always hawking their own personal wares, and I see these things that I think deserve to be shared widely just barely shared at all.

So I wonder why that is. Is it that we don’t want to participate in the hawking of our friend’s wares? Why not? With all the other things in the world we give our tacit support to with our dollars, we can’t give that friend a signal boost? Isn’t it remotely possible that of our 100ish other Facebook friends, maybe some of them might find value in seeing that other friend’s post? Wouldn’t it be awesome to see one friend appreciate the other friend’s whatever it is so much that money even changes hands? Cool! One friend actually got paid to do what they love. The other friend got a cool thing. What’s not to like?

Wouldn’t it be great if the friend making the cool things could actually become self-sufficient doing that thing they love?

Is there something about playing around on Zuckerberg’s market data suction pump that makes us unwilling to support people we actually know?

What about those friends who don’t post things they’re selling, but post about some ongoing endeavor for which more exposure would be deeply appreciated, because maybe it would help grow the community that enjoys the thing they do, whatever it is?

This isn’t meant to be some kind of guilt trip. We all have our reasons for why we don’t share every little thing. In essence, we’re all curating for our friends select bits and pieces we want them to see. We don’t want to clutter up our news feeds. We don’t want to feel like we’re just browsing through classified ads when we’re online.

At the same time, all of that can be reframed. I know it’s reframed by those creators of things and pursuers of endeavors. We curate select bits and pieces for a host of reasons, in part to project some kind of online persona and cultivate a particular kind of perception. Those creative and endeavoring friends just don’t make the cut, and they see that. As I understand it, it mostly feels like a gut punch, just a really long, slow one dragged out over time. We don’t mean to project an image of ourselves that says, “we support our friends’ efforts.” Sharing a kitten, or an article, or a market data sucking meme, or whatever, even ads for huge corporate concerns, says something about us that’s different from sharing a friend’s work on the off-chance another of our friends might appreciate it. We prefer the perception we create when we share all those other things is all. A lot of those creative and endeavoring friends feel like they’re left twisting in the wind. They see what gets appreciated, and they aren’t it. Most of them won’t talk about that.

Like I said, this isn’t meant to be a guilt trip. We have our legitimate reasons. I think it’s also important to be aware that what we don’t say speaks loudly to those who hear too much silence. This has been the curse of even great artists throughout history, to die unknown, maybe penniless, only to find their audiences long after it would do them any good. But this is the 21st Century. We’ve got kids making bank on YouTube by putting up unboxing videos. YouTube Celebrity is even a thing. Same with Instagram. Whatever weird thing it is that gets them fame or notoriety, they’ve figured it out and they get the perks and bennies, largely financial, for something utterly ridiculous, and there’s the creative, endeavoring friend without a click some Kardashian just got. Heaven forbid people clutter up their news feeds with the success and happiness of their friends on a marketing platform peppered with ads for just about everything else under the sun.

That might not be what’s meant by the benign neglect, but that’s often how it’s received.

So here’s my great idea. #SharingSaturday. Don’t clutter up your feed 6 days of the week. In part, social media is a tool you use to glean whatever you glean from it, and if everyone supported their friends like this all the time, maybe social media would stop being useful to you.

So how about one day a week? A good weekend day, the kind of day usually reserved by all who have Saturdays free for doing all of what needs doing and a greater amount of whatever one feels like. We’re a Saturday people. It’s often a great day for getting together with friends. And why? Because we love and appreciate them. We take joy in their happiness, and personally feel gratified at their successes. Why not #SharingSaturday? If it’s Saturday, and you’re already online, what better time to reach out and show some love for those creative and endeavoring friends by playing matchmaker. Maybe it isn’t your thing. But supporting your friends is. So just this one day a week, if you see your friends doing something they hope gets positive attention, maybe even of the cash kind, show the love and give them a boost.

Some of your other friends might even appreciate those boosts more than the article, or the kitten, or the meme. I think it’s a good look, personally. Try it out, won’t you?