When you post a picture of your new car on Instagram, that’s not sharing. That’s bragging. You want a pat on the back for the accomplishment and the hard work it represents. That’s fair, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to be honest about it. You’re not “spreading the joy.” Your post will make some, maybe most, people jealous. And you will get plenty of back-patting, but not all of it will be genuine. That’s life. That’s social media.
Beyond the many ways we can use them to stuff ourselves with hollow feelings, however, there are some that truly deserve the “social” moniker. One of them requires little more than stopping to take a photo or taking a break from grocery shopping to quickly text someone on WhatsApp: Whenever something reminds you of someone you care about, let them know.
If you spot a car you used to salivate over with your third-grade bestie, send him a picture. When you find a chair at IKEA with your cousin’s name, tell her about it. And should you come across a delicacy you tasted on your Japan trip with a friend ten years ago, make sure to remind him how good it tasted. That’s true connection. That’s sharing. That’s spreading the joy.
Every brand, ad, and TikTok video now encourages us “to share” not because we care about the people we share with but in order to make a statement about who we are. In a world where everything feels unique but is actually average, where we all like the same food, clothes, and music, and where we can live just fine, even better, with an identity that’s muted rather than emphasized, that’s not the kind of sharing that matters.
Meanwhile, the moments that truly matter are easily lost in a sea of humdrum, everyday activities. Passing the canned beans isle without reminding your high school friend of your inside joke happens quickly, but regrets often last forever once we have them. “Hey! I saw this, and it made me think of you.” A single line, no effort. It barely feels like sharing, yet it can easily make our day. Don’t forget it — because that’s the kind of sharing that matters.