Reading Time: 3 mins approx.
Author: Tinu Alexander John
Imagine it’s 2059, and you are at a park. You see two kids buying ice cream with their father. Kids were screaming the ice cream they wanted, space grey choco chip! To their disappointment, there was just one cup of that extraterrestrial goodness. The father reluctantly picks the cup and after a millisecond of confusion hands the cup to the youngest. He picks up another spoon from the counter and places it in the ice cream and said to him, “Share it with your sister, yeah?”. The child asks the father, should I take a picture of it and share it now or when we get back home?
This is a stretch of a nightmare. But is the word ‘share’ losing its meaning? Will humanity get to this eventually? Are the millennial to be blamed for this? or the social engineers, behavioural psychologists, and UX designers making us slaves to their platform making us do this? And why do we like ‘sharing’ so much?
To answer that we have to go half a million years back. Back when we were not the only species walking the earth on two feet. Meet Neanderthals (cousins who didn’t make it) and homo sapiens (us). Neanderthals were better than us in some aspects, but they were a bit of a loner. They lived and hunted in small isolated groups. While we gathered and hunted in packs, we shared the food we found, our knowledge to kill the beast with our homies. Together we avoided the filter. We drew in caves for others to learn how we survived, so they could survive too. Sharing and a little bit altruism helped us get here.
The urge to share knowledge and aspects of our lives can be seen all throughout our brief history. Cave drawings to paintings and journals that were shared among friends to know what’s happening in others’ lives. Messages in a bottle and books to share our ideas and thoughts. We have always felt the need to be connected and sharing moments of our lives was a way for us to connect.
And if you think sharing with the whole world was enough, the absolute legend Carl Sagan cooked up a mixtape for the little green man living in a distant galaxy. This was a case of interplanetary sharing. Under his guidance, a golden record was made with information about the earth and its earthlings. This record was placed with the Voyager spacecraft and send on a never-ending voyage through the expanses of the universe.
We are at a point where we’re living a good part of our lives online. Everything you see online is specifically built to grab your attention and make you want to engage and share so that your friends can do the same. We rarely question or think, we impulsively like and share. There are times we share a video of a cute kitten playing the piano, or a video of someone ‘sending it’ or an article with misinformed opinions mistaken as facts (that happens a lot online these days). ‘Stranger danger’ a term used to teach kids to be sceptical about the people they meet, we could use the same scepticism online. Treat information, people and anything else you find online with a little scepticism.
Misinformation can shake the pillars of democracy, start a civil war or a genocide. Last five years we have seen the effects of these all around the world. Presidential elections to ethnic cleansing, knowingly or unknowingly we share hate, we share fear. Remember a time when all you could see in your Facebook page was pictures of your happy friends and the quirky dumb things they had to say to the world. We have come a long way from that and they have gained a lot of power on us. Bring a sense of accountability and responsibility to every piece of information you share. That might help get some power back.
Even when you share responsibly online, don’t forget to share in the real world. Share a laugh, a meal, a little extra change. If we didn’t do that, we millennials would go down in history as the generation that helped the word ‘share’ lose its meaning. We millennials are part responsible for ‘Spam’, let’s not have ‘share’ in the same list. Until next time, peace.