Simple acts of kindness: why it's time to get sharing offline

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Have you shared anything today? No, not on social media, in real life. Anyone with a young child knows that sharing is one of the most essential concepts we try to instil in them, but in a world where the digital realm has hijacked the term, do we apply this original, offline meaning of the word to our own lives anymore?

Nicholas A. John, a lecturer of Communication at the University of Jerusalem points out that the oldest meaning of the word ‘share’ is to distribute, or divide. “Importantly, it is also a zero-sum game – when I give you some of my candy, I am left with less.” This kind of sharing is inherently altruistic, forcing you to give up something for the benefit of another person. Our online sharing, whether of photos and videos, thoughts, or articles, can undoubtedly have benefits, but is often for personal affirmation rather than a selfless act of kindness (even if you do consider your latest selfie as nothing less than a gift to your followers).  

That’s not to say that offline sharing, whether it’s your material possessions, time, or knowledge, doesn’t also have its benefits, they just don’t come in the form of likes. Research has proven that sharing with others gives us a hit of the feel good hormone oxytocin. Sharing is also central to human society, and builds relationships. Children as young as six have been shown to understand that people who share with each other are closer than those who don’t.

 

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Although sharing is no longer quite so straightforward as letting your friend play with your favourite toy, there’s plenty of ways to spread kindness to those around you. For a start, it doesn’t have to be a physical object. Especially in our increasingly-busy society, often the most precious thing we can share is our time. Drop in on an elderly neighbour for a chat, offer to babysit for your sister, or block off a day to spend with a friend going through a tough time. Giving someone your uninterrupted attention is a great way to show you care.

In a similar way, sharing our knowledge with others can be incredibly helpful. The next time you see a colleague struggling with a task you’re confident in, show them how you go about it, or offer a few tips. Did you find a delicious pasta recipe on Pinterest? Print it out for your Mum if you know she’ll love it too. They say a problem shared is a problem halved, but sharing something positive multiplies the benefits.    

Sharing food is a mainstay of cultures the world over, and is an important way to bond with those around us. You might bring some baked goods to a friend, or invite them around for dinner, just because. It could even be as simple as buying a sharing bag of chocolate when you pop out of the office instead of a single bar, letting your colleagues enjoy the treat too.

When it comes to material possessions, books are perfect items to share, especially if your friends have similar tastes to you, and you’re also guaranteed to have someone to discuss that page-turner with afterwards. Also, although you may have fought bitterly with siblings about ‘sharing’ clothes when you were a teenager, it’s (usually) less fraught between adults. If your friend admires that dress you wore to a wedding, offer to lend it to her the next time she has an event. You may even get an offer in return for something of hers you’ve had your eye on.


Share a sweet indulgence with friends with Lily O’Brien's new Share Bags. Flavours include Mega Milk Share Bag, 70% Dark Belgian and Creamy Caramel & Sea Salt, Crunchy Salted Carmel and are only €2.99 each, available nationwide, including SuperValu, Dunnes Stores and Circle K. lilyobriens.ie

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Featured image: rawpixel

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