The human society has come a long way in the culture of sharing,
From sharing knowledge, through writings on oracle bones, papyrus, paper, to books and manuscripts,
To sharing your information and data on the Internet,
To sharing news updates and your life story, from Friendster/MSN to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter,
To sharing accommodation via Airbnb
To sharing car rides, Uber, Grab, and now,
even sharing bike rides on Ofo, Obike and Mobike.
I suppose that, generally, it is human nature to share stuff with others, be it food, ideas, or even secrets (not sure why though).
The human tendency to share things, can be good or bad, depending on intent and impact.
For example, when sharing about your life on social media, your intention might have been to share the joy (if it’s something positive) or sorrow (if it’s bad news) with network of friends and followers, usually to garner some sort of (positive) response from readers/viewers. Yet, sometimes the response may be lukewarm, or even discouraging. This would run counter to the response you had expected. This would be an example of how your actions could backfire on you. Another point I wish to add is that, at times, there are unintended effects of your act of sharing. With the same example of sharing the happenings in your life on social networks, you may have unwittingly exposed your personal details online, which might be visible to strangers. You might not be willing to share such personal information but you realised that you have already done so unknowingly.
So good intentions, but negative impact.
Conversely, sharing, with ill intentions in mind, may at times yield positive impact.
For instance, when hate speech by bigots surfaces on online social platforms, netizens come together to condemn intolerance and discrimination. Inflammatory rhetoric meant to sow discord between communities, brought people together to stand against marginalisation and for inclusion instead. Instead of causing social disharmony, the airing of exclusivist views provoked a response – by the very people the views were targeted at – in the form of the strengthening of social unity.
So, sharing, with its merits and drawbacks, is something to be treated with caution, as it is a double-edged sword. The effects could swing both ways. And of course, sometimes, there could be both positive and negative effects simultaneously.
The consequences of sharing do not solely depend on the intentions of the originators; it is dependent on the way/method by which the sharing is done, the context of the sharing, and society’s perception of such sharing as well.
But elaboration on those would come another day (if I could even remember to write about it).
All in all, I have observed that the trend of sharing increases over time, and becomes more diversified with technological advancements. As we can see from the rise of the Internet, of Facebook, of Airbnb, of Grab, of oBike, and of Wikipedia, the modern economy is powered by sharing, and I believe it would continue this way, at least in the next couple of decades.
Sharing encourages collaboration, discussion, teamwork, and mutual learning. This is the cornerstone of progress and thus a right direction for both the society and the economy.