So this just happened to me.
As I mentioned on a previous post, I like keeping my friends close because I didn’t have so many as a child. I seem to be part of a flexible group of people who actually value friendship, rather than to just remember them on holidays and send over a card. But in fact these days, we don’t even send cards, do we? We look for free e-cards that we can sign and email to everyone on our mailing list, just to get that ‘chore’ out of the way, so we can get back to that delicious eggnog, or the new book we ordered off Amazon, while we curl up nice and comfy in the comfort of our homes.
I may be wrong, but I do think that’s selfish.
Don’t get me wrong; I used to behave in a similar manner. Until I saw how lonely people really are. Just how much they’re trying to mean something to the people around them. How much they’re trying to matter; to someone, anyone, at all. Just like I am. And so I took to my phone and finally got on Whatsapp, that wonderful messaging service that has just gone free forever. My sincere thanks!
There are several studies and theories out there now, based entirely on how messaging services bring people together, how the use of emojis indicates the physical expression of the user, etc., etc. It’s all very medical and science-y and it says to me that we’re all objects, like a science experiment. What happened to the human emotive aspect along the way?
So I’ve been using Whatsapp to do one very simple thing. Every morning and night, I use the broadcast service to wish the people on my contact list that I talk to, a good morning and a good night. Every day. And the reason I do it, is because I know that if someone bothered to remember me like that every day, with just the two simple messages, I’d smile. As it is, when I do send these texts out, I get replies, which tells me that my efforts have been successful. That some people out there, who I cannot meet, who are either not in my city, or are sitting halfway across the world, are smiling because they matter enough to someone to have been remembered.
Now, I will say, that there’s very few people who do the same for me. Who remember me before I remember them and send in their good wishes for the day. So I know how it feels to open your inbox and find this lovely, uplifting message sitting there, sending you the love and acceptance and feeling of value from this other person.
I will also say, that this is the second time I’ve taken up this method of sharing smiles. I used to do it a few years ago, for weeks and months, until I realized that I’m the only one making the effort. And that after a while, people have become accustomed to getting similar messages in bulk from several sources, so my effort matters very little in the larger scheme of things. And, so, being discouraged, I stopped.
I’m still unsure whether I was wrong in giving up. Because, after all, what effort does it take to send a bulk message? Almost none. And yet, I could not accept the thought that I was unappreciated for my efforts. And so I sat back and introspected. And while I did that, a trickle of messages began coming through, dropping into the void I had created. And I realized that it did not matter who made the effort, but that someone had to begin.
And so here I am, back to where I was when I began this post. Knowing that several people I write to, have written back to me telling me that they like my messages and how uplifted they feel upon reading them. That sometimes, it is the only conversation we have in the day. And there comes into the midst of all this, a comment from my closest friend saying that not only does he find my texts amusing, but that he does not care for the concept at all!!
Now that . . . well, that stings. He thought he was being mean, but being on the receiving end, it was actually quite condescending. He is now on probation, though he has apologized.
But the event made me aware of another facet to sharing. Not everyone is going to appreciate what you do out of your goodwill. Some will accept it and pass it on. Some may even thank you. But the many will deride you, put you down, dismiss you, and encourage others to do so as well. It may be either active or passive, this effort to erode your goodwill. So what do you do?
You keep trying.
For those who appreciate it, who welcome it, who find in it a certain kind of peace and a sense of belonging. Don’t leave them hanging because of the few who don’t appreciate you. Don’t give up on them because they are mostly silent, because most often they will not ask. Every little bit you do helps someone. So don’t let the dismissive discourage you. Send them your goodwill anyway. And just maybe, they might change their minds.
So share a smile. Begin today. 🙂