I’ve been a bit of a regular at the local corner store lately; buying iceblocks and icecreams in the heat of the afternoon for me and the boys to enjoy. I struck up a conversation with the woman serving us and she shared with me how she was getting over a virus and still wasn’t feeling so great. I wished her well and went on my way.
About a week later, I was back for more iceblocks and saw her again and asked if she’d gotten over the virus fully. Her reply has stuck in my mind: she actually paused and was stunned for a moment. Someone had asked, someone remembered. She beamed a big smile and thanked me: she was feeling better.
A friend of mine on Facebook is a very regular updater and has lots of Facebook friends. One day, she simply stopped posting without a mention why. I noticed after a couple of days and it bothered me. I got in touch offline and found out what was going on. A few months later, she reappeared on Facebook and went back to her usual posting habits with a brief explanation for her health-related absence. She got a number of comments from people saying things such as “Ahh, so that explains the Facebook-silence”. I got so angry reading those comments.
At Kiwi Foo, I went to a session on what books people had been reading lately. We went around the room and each shared a book or two we’d read and recommended to others. Someone took notes and it ended up as a Good Reads list as a reference for later. The session was more than the information collected: hearing people get excited about things they’d been learning, inspired or challenged by was much more valuable. I’m sure many of them have reading lists on Good Reads or elsewhere, but there was something nice about being asked and having people’s attention to hearing what you had to say than just sharing it with the whole world passively and hoping it would connect with someone.
I’ve been thinking a lot about asking versus sharing. Is the current online culture of sharing everything – whether it be “frictionless” (as Facebook would term it) or more deliberately – taking away the focus on asking? On making the effort to find out rather than just waiting to be told?
It’s inbuilt to want to share our experiences, but we long to be asked. There’s an instant gratification from sharing and then someone liking or commenting, but it’s a very different sensation from someone taking the time to ask (sincerely).
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