June 2, 2011

The Sharing Lie

by

Sharing Lie

Sharing. A single word that supposedly means we’re a nice person. I’m going to say it, because I’ve been thinking it for a very long time. Sharing is a huge lie we tell our children! It’s the same lie our parents told us when we were kids.

I’m not talking about the charitable aspect of sharing. That’s not a lie. We need to share our money, things, talents to help those in need. What I’m talking about is the sharing that is about letting other people use our stuff.

My brother and I didn’t have a lot of toys but we had plenty. And while most would clearly fit gender stereotypes there were those toys and games that belonged to both of us. Those things we had to share. Not hoard or hide or covet, but share.

And even better we were supposed to let other people play with our toys. Most of the time these were friends, but every once in awhile someone would come over to visit and bring their kid and we’d have to let this new kid use our things.

It was in college when I conceptualized this sharing lie. Because sharing only applies to kids. Adults rarely share. And it was when I moved away to college that I fully realized the gravity of this lie that is perpetuated on kids from a very early age.

Once I was in college, I didn’t have to share. Nope! My stuff was my stuff. Roommate? Let her get her own hair spray. And, don’t touch my hotplate or microwave or boom box. *insert crazy girl head waggle*

Grown ups don’t share. When was the last time you let your friend use your car? Would you really allow your BFF to use your Coach bag or your gemstone cocktail ring? Uh, no way! We don’t share our “toys”.

“Dude, let me borrow your iPod?” Don’t think so! Not unless your friend is running the Ironman and theirs broke while being chased down on their last training by wild boars. And even then, probably not because I don’t know about you but I don’t want my iPod being eaten by wild boars.

Sharing is the one thing that we as adults tell kids, but don’t often demonstrate. Sure we may loan our neighbor the edger or the mower. But the entire time they have it we’re mumbling under our breath about how they better not break it or use all the gas or whatever it is that they could possible do to them. We don’t do it with the generous spirit we ask of our children.

Just think about loaning books. Thank goodness for the Kindle! Now we don’t have to let our friends borrow our books any more. Because they keep them too long or the bend the binding or fold the pages. They’re touching our book and it makes us uncomfortable. But now, a-ha! We get to say “Sorry, I only have it on Kindle.” (insert fake smile)

While I say this with a bit of humor, it’s very real. Adults don’t share. That’s not to say we’re not kind or generous or helpful. I am a very giving person. But I’m not loaning out my purse, my car, my phone, my iPod, my noise-canceling headphones.

Yet, every day, parents across the country and around the world are asking their children to let other kids use their belongings. We ask our kids to do something we, ourselves, aren’t all that willing to do. Like I said, this isn’t about the generosity or charitable giving part.

Sharing is a very important concept because it teaches kids many lessons. I’m not here to say we shouldn’t teach kids about sharing. I just find it to be an interesting sociological phenomenon that sharing in adulthood is very different than that of childhood.

What do you think about adults sharing. Are we setting good examples? Or is it just one of those things that is different for adults?

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Sharing is a Lie

Sara

{ 4 comments }

Tasha June 2, 2011 at 11:26 am

Hi Sara, I think this is very interesting to think about. I actually feel that I have consciously made an effort to become more okay with sharing as an adult because I’ve found it so appealing in others when they freely have loaned me things that I might have felt panicky about doing the same with. It’s worked to a large degree, though I won’t deny there are some exceptions. With my books, I usually just tell myself that it is meant to be read, so I give instead of loan, so that I’m not anxious and waiting for it back. And I request that when they are done with it, that they pass it along to someone else, so they can have a chance to enjoy it and the book can best serve its purpose. Truthfully, I love having books around me, but I almost never read a book a second time or need to have it around, unless it’s a reference book, a true favorite, or a sentimental gift. The best part of this approach has been that I don’t have to feel annoyed or anxious if I just give the item away. Instead I get to feel generous and like I am doing a nice thing. Course, this doesn’t work as well with a car! But, I have done my best to follow some of my role model friends who freely and casually have loaned me their cars without anxious admonitions and fretting. Seeing other adults demonstrate true sharing is appealing & has inspired me to work in that direction as an adult myself. When a friend really needs my car and I can make it available, I do. I like to challenge myself to cling a little less to my material goods when & where I can (moving into a much smaller place has also helped keep that inspiration going). Anway, thanks for a thought-provoking post. I’m looking forward to meeting you at the JPL Tweetup!

Sara June 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Hello Tasha,

I like that you’re actively aware of wanting to share. I, too, will usually just give a book to someone hoping they’ll continue to pass it one. Books are to be read, yet we take so much pride in our home libraries of books that we once read.

That very nice of you to offer your car to a friend in need. My first inclination is to offer to drive them where they need to go. See, my need for control and not wanting to share my ‘stuff’. Something I probably need to work on. 😉

Thank you for visiting my blog and I look forward to meeting you IRL at the JPL Tweetup!

Sara

J'aime June 2, 2011 at 11:54 am

As an adult, I’m not willing to share:
1) Things I need to conduct business daily
2) Things that are unhygienic/unsafe to share (e.g. eyeliner)
3) Things that have extreme sentimental/family value
4) Things with people who make sharing a burden (e.g. don’t clean borrowed clothes), at least not very often

All of the above, I think, is in keeping with my childhood value system. Some months I don’t violate (4) enough though.

Sara June 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm

J’aime,

Thank you for visiting my blog and sharing your insight. I like that you have a list of things you won’t share. It’s a rather short list, but it’s very clear. It really means that the list of things you’d be willing to share is much greater and that’s truly wonderful.

Now you have me thinking that maybe I should just reframe things and rather than thinking of it as not sharing I could just put boundaries on those things that would be off limits.

Thank you for visiting and sharing!

Kindly,
Sara

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