Social sharing is the equivalent of ego stroking for the brain. We get high off “neurochemical reward[s] from sharing information”–which may explain why so many are addicted to jabbering on and on about themselves online, the easiest forum for sharing. The same parts of the brain that light up when we eat a delicious burger or bit of chocolate also glimmer when we check our email or scroll through our Facebook or Twitter feeds.
But it’s more than the pleasure principle at work. From The Atlantic article called “The Selfish Meme” by Frank Rose:
A closer look at the advantages conferred by storytelling offers some clues: by telling stories effectively, we gain status, obtain social feedback, and strengthen our bonds with other people. And on the flip side, all of this nattering—or tweeting—by our fellow humans ensures that we don’t have to discover everything on our own. We have no end of people competing to tell us what’s what. Hence the real paradox of sharing: what feels good for me probably ends up benefiting us all.
Sharing is a complexly layered action with a cause and reward system dependent on several variables. The irony of this post being my first for this blog is not lost on me. But rather than sharing for a reward, this blog’s purpose relates more to the first and last points Rose makes: telling stories and strengthening bonds with others.
I share primarily to understand others and to be understood. Though I’ve always felt like I’ve had a solid grasp on the former, the latter seems like a constant battle. And maybe that’s because I tend to be more interested in hearing and retelling the stories of other people rather than my own. This blog aims to change that a bit.
So cheers to the “selfishness” of telling our own stories and celebrating the stories of others! May we move toward a deeper understanding of each other.