"Sharing is caring."
The first time I heard that line, I thought it was catchy and meaningful. There is truth in that statement. Indeed, we share many things because we care. We share about our thoughts, feelings, and concerns with others because we care. We care about ourselves, we care about them, and we care about us.
However, after some time, I started to raise an eyebrow whenever I read or hear that statement being voiced. After considering the contexts in which this statement is commonly used, specifically on the internet, I think we have to add a few clauses to the act of sharing in order to qualify it as being an act of caring.
Sharing is something we do so easily these days (especially with the convenience of the "Share" button), sometimes it is hard to make sure that we do it because we care, or because of something else.
If we indeed care, then before we share we should seriously consider at least these 3 things:
1. What is the intention behind the share?
If we indeed care, then we should share because of a deep and a sincere concern for the well-being of others. This is the basic definition of "naseeha" when the Prophet said, "The Deen (referring to Islam) is naseeha."
Ultimately, this is done to seek the pleasure of God.
If there is an intention other than that, then we have to revisit our "sharing is caring" ideology. Are we expressing our care for the world, or are we just looking for a couple of hundred "likes" for a quick ego-boost?
2. Before we share, do we verify the information?
The discipline of the wise is to consider everything, but to accept only the truth.
When an information arrives, no matter how interesting it may be, do we spend a few moments to ask whether or not it is true? If we indeed care, then we should make sure that whatever we share is the truth and nothing less than that.
Think of it this way: whatever we share on the internet, despite our best privacy settings, there is a possibility that what we share is available for the whole world to see. Wherever there is internet and wherever there is a person who is capable enough of maneuvering himself or herself in it, that person has the potential to receive the information you shared.
Not too long ago, someone shared a Facebook status of a person whom I have never met. Not only does the person was not in my friends list, she was also not in my mutual friends list - not even in the "people you may know" list. She is, technically, far beyond my circle of Facebook friendship.
But, her Facebook status somehow magically arrives in my newsfeed. Fortunately, she did not say something untrue or inappropriate. Nonetheless, that goes to show that when you talk about the internet, nothing is private.
There is a possibility, no matter how small, that whatever you share on the internet can be seen by anyone.
I make Youtube videos without the intention of going far. At best, perhaps my videos could reach everyone in Malaysia. To my surprise, I received emails from places like France, Venezuela, Holland, Egypt, etc. Some of them are Malaysians, but some of them aren't. Point is, my videos reached further than I could ever imagine. Even though physically I have never been to these places before, but my message reached them.
On one hand, I am grateful to know how far my videos have gone. On the other hand, it is scary to think that I, a normal boy with a camera and an internet connection, have the capability of reaching that far.
What if I accidentally spread something false? How far have that falsehood traveled because of me?
3. Is the thing that we want to share positive, or negative?
I believe that the world is not as bad as it seems. The media in our disposal, particularly the internet, has contributed to the ugly painting of the world that does not reflect the reality of the world. Part of that ugly painting is our individual contribution of spreading negativity on the internet.
Sad part is, negativity goes viral easily.
Whether it is someone doing something stupid, vulgar, or inhumane, we like to share things like that with the world. Ultimately, this can lead to a drop in our collective morale as one humanity.
I am not suggesting that we ignore the negativity that exists. It does exist and it needs to be addressed maturely and tactfully. Simply sharing the negativity does not help removing it. If anything, it adds to our paranoia and frustration about our own selves.
Focus on the solution, not the problem.
We all want to combat negativity, but sharing negativity is not the way to do it. We have to combat negativity with positivity. When we add more positivity to the world, negativity will slowly decline because positive and negative cannot coexist. One wipes out the other.
If we indeed care, then we should share positivity with the world. We should lift people up and not let people down. We should constantly find ways to brighten people's day and not to gloom it down. Our very existence, both in the virtual world and in the real world, should contribute to the collective positive energy.
Let the positive energy spread through our finger tips; through our blog posts, tweets, statuses, video blogs, and whatever means we can get our hands on these days.
If we care, then we will share what will ultimately make the world a better place.
That is what makes sharing a truly caring act.