The ideas of giving and receiving find themselves in many different areas. The most obvious example of this would be gifts, and you may have heard the adage ” ’tis better to give than to receive.” I will investigate this, as well as do some other musing on giving and receiving through other avenues.
The idea for this post came from a post on Sunday from Alienora’s blog. In it, she explained her recent lack of reading and responses to other blogs. In particular, she explained that she would rather communicate via e-mail than in a comment thread on a blog, bringing up the idea of reciprocity as a negative.
That is an interesting take, and I would agree with it to some extent. Oftentimes in this world, friendships and other relationships tend to have a social more of reciprocity attached to them, perhaps almost as an ultimatum. Online, this is the “follow-me-and-I-will-follow-you-back” situation. But, the ulterior motive there can often get in the way of true rapport-building.
As I have posted every day for the last 422 days, I have become more active in the blogging community, rather than just publishing posts for myself and my Facebook/Twitter network. Through challenges such as Zero to Hero (i.e. Blogging 101), I have expanded my network of blogs to read and comment on.
However, reading so many different blogs is a chore. I am more likely to follow a blog if its writing style appeals to me, as long as the subject matter holds at least tangential interest.
Due to Mission 441, much of my time in the blogosphere has been spent on the Giving side, that is, writing posts for readers to consider, reflect on, and respond to. I also read blogs from my Reader and Bloglovin’, but tend to normally not spend too much time on any one post due to the time constraints and the fact that I have bigger fish to fry. Therefore, although I enjoy some of the blogs that I read, my engagement with their posts has taken a temporary hit.
Thus, on the blogosphere, I am more of a giver than a receiver. It also is part of my policy to not necessarily automatically follow back a blogger that gives me a follow. There are too many spammers out there, or blogs which simply hold zero interest to me. I never understood the people that follow a blog without ever giving a comment or a like. And likes alone I cannot, in good faith, take as evidence that a reader is truly engaged with my writing. A single Like will not start a conversation. Maybe a pattern of them will, but a single one? Could very well just be a monkey smashing keys at random to arrive at my site and finding the Like button for a post!
On the other hand, I am more of a receiver away from the blog. One of my most undeveloped qualities is the art of gift-giving and being a “good guest.” A common custom of being a guest at someone’s house is to bring some sort of a gift, whether it be flowers, a dessert or wine (e.g. for a dinner party), or something else. I understand the rationale behind it, but simply do not frequently participate in this custom. Does this make me a miser or a bad guest?
Similarly, for friends’ birthdays that they invite me to, I don’t bring a gift, because I have almost zero aptitude for reading people’s wants in terms of gifts. Thus, the parties that say “No gifts please” are my favorite ones to attend. Maybe it is the fear of screwing up, or maybe it is just a skill that I never really attained, preferring to hone other social skills under the limitations of Asperger syndrome. I have never been called out for it, but I wonder if, behind the back, the no-gifts is problematic.
Part of this poor policy for gifts may be the fact that my low-maintenance personality rubs off on my social mores. I have very few material wants. Though I do enjoy receiving gifts, I never insist upon it. One of my favorite sayings that strongly sums up my thoughts on the social mores of bringing gifts to hosts:
“Your presence is my present.”
Although reciprocity is very important, there is a huge difference between reciprocity merely for an ulterior motive (e.g., the social norms) versus reciprocity due to a legitimate friendship. This need not be shown through gifts. Instead, I feel that just spending quality time in each other’s circles of influence is the best way to manifest reciprocity. Gifts are not required!
Today is the four-hundred and twenty-second day of Mission 441. Nineteen days remain.