So…a thought, great idea, good memory, question, or something funny pops into my head. I want to share it with someone. I can:
A) Call or text one friend I think will also enjoy it (or *gasp* save it til you see them in person).
B) Text a small group of friends who all might enjoy it.
C) Share it on closed social media with 100 people I “know” who might like or reply to it.
D) Share it on public social media where thousands of people may see it, like it, reply to it, and perhaps share it themselves with thousands of others—and echo on for eternity for all future mankind.
Option “A” is:
- the most work (gotta choose just one friend, exclude everyone else),
- has the most risk (what if they don’t like it, or others feel excluded),
- with the least immediate reward (they may not reply for hours, or days…leaving my need for distraction still unfulfilled)
- and has the smallest number of people to potentially appreciate or benefit from it.
Option “B” is:
- slightly easier (oh, just send it to that whole group of friends),
- has less risk anyone feels excluded,
- increases the potential for a sooner reward (at least one of them will reply back soon to entertain me),
- and there are now more people to appreciate and benefit from it.
Option “C” is:
- even easier because I just blast it to everyone I “know”,
- has almost no risk of anyone feeling excluded,
- within minutes somebody will have responded (giving my brain an immediate hit of dopamine),
- and now most of my “social network” can appreciate it (i.e. appreciate me) and benefit from it.
Finally, option “D” is:
- easiest of all. It takes zero discernment (or exclusion) as to who should get it.
- I’ve maximized how many responses/likes/views will be rolling down my screen, perhaps only seconds later,
- therefore maximizing the amount of dopamine I will get,
- and all now with the added benefit of having hundreds of other strangers I’ve never met benefit from it and “like” me, too. Maybe get a few new followers. Shoot, it could even go viral and change the world.
So which do we choose? Far too often we choose option D. It’s far too easy and the potential upside too alluring.
Which should we choose, however? Most of the time, the answer should be “A”. When it comes to happiness, great friends, and good quality relationships (a foundation for a good life), Option “A” is pure gold. Option “D” is dust in the wind. Furthermore, option D can even be destructive to our closest relationships—typically making each close friend you happened to include actually feel more distant from you (because you’re sharing this thing with them at the same level as relative strangers).
The same principle applies to inviting people to do something. We like to hide behind not wanting to “exclude” people, and our culture has decided “inclusivity” is an absolute good (it’s not—though it can be a wonderful and good thing, of course). But it is precisely in the exclusion of others that we are able to connect more intimately with those we did include.
When somebody thinks to invite or share something with specifically me (as opposed to just any ol’ somebody, or everybody), it means something special. It is more intimate. It is life giving. It strengthens and builds up the friendship.
Friendships aren’t built with groups (one-to-many), but rather between two individuals (one-to-one). That is why the modern preference for “one-to-many” communications is, on the whole, antithetical to deep, meaningful friendships. As it spoils what could have been a golden, intimate moment between two friends, and cheapens it into just one more thing for everyone.