A friend of mine sent me the above video the other night. After watching the video, I felt compelled to share it. It has the effect of bringing a smile to your face, might remind you of the beauty of the human race and just generally make you happy.
It wasn't until after I shared the post on Facebook with our collective connections that it dawned on me I may have broken a social contract. Should I have shared this? I realized this depended in large part on how the other person viewed this interaction. Was this supposed to be a fleeting exchange between friends, something to be broadcast to the public at large or somewhere in between?
I will save you the suspense. I consulted with my friend before writing this and they were fine with the fact that I shared. They even provided their own thoughts on sharing culture which I will discuss briefly a little later in this post.
In order to avoid saying "my friend" for the rest of this post, I will refer to them from now on by the gender-neutral name Sam.
Sam has been trying to rehabilitate my taste in music for several years. Although s/he has never been able to cure me of my Taylor Swift fandom, I must say Sam's taste in music is impeccable. Whenever I receive a new music video, there's a 95 percent chance that $.99 will be debited for purchase from Amazon within six minutes. S/he always seems to find something off the beaten path that isn't receiving radio play but definitely should be.
Maybe it was because the song was not available for purchase (my first impulse for any good music), maybe it struck me as something different than you normally hear, or maybe because the emotional message of the song tugged at my heartstrings. Whatever the reason, I chose to share this particular song on Facebook, something I don't normally do.
I suppose I had a couple of different options at this point. I could have just posted the video and talked about how great it was, how it made me feel the innate goodness of the human spirit. After all, Sam did not make the video, but instead just shared it with me. There is no real obligation to give him/her credit for the find. I could have discovered it on my own on YouTube.
The other side of this argument is that it's sometimes nice to credit the original source. Maybe it's my journalistic training, but you source everything you do. I think as humans, there's something that feels very good about being recognized for the work you do and gems you dig up. Maybe journalism analogies aren't directly applicable to every situation, but I can tell you I would much rather have something attributed to my reporting or my media outlet rather than have someone say "reports" when I know they are using something that could have only come from me.
On the other hand, the argument can be made that perhaps journalists (or anyone remotely in the public eye) are an edge case. My phone number and e-mail are easily accessible in a number of places on the Internet because I have chosen to put them there. I can also be reached via a number of social networking profiles. It's a hazard of the profession that your hours don't necessarily end when you leave the office. I don't mind this because you get to tell the stories associated with people and issues from any number of angles. I have also been asked to share my perspective in some columns on disability related issues around Oakland University in the past. This was a great experience and I feel it's sometimes important to get your opinion across on these issues, especially when it comes from a point of view sometimes innocently overlooked. If in the process of reading that column you learn a little bit about me as a person, I don't mind trading a little bit of my privacy for awareness.
Still, most people are a lot more private than this and we wouldn't consider them a recluse. Every once in a while, I get someone that doesn't want to be interviewed. More often than not, you will not find someone's personal email or cell phone number on the web. It's not necessary that your average person tell you what he did at work today, let alone put his name on it.
Another factor is the issue that what may be appropriate and received a certain way in one situation might be received totally differently in another situation with a different audience. I think of Pitch Perfect as a relatively upbeat movie I watch with my little sister. When we watched with my grandmother today, I suddenly became aware of how much they actually pushed the line in that movie. Her reaction was, "How can you watch this crap?" I realized that maybe the line is different for everybody. My Facebook is intentionally tame, but if I were to post something that would potentially offend someone that might hire me, I wouldn't want to put the friend that shared it with me privately in the same boat.
When I told Sam I was planning to write this, s/he said this is just the way our generation shares culture. We see something we think is cool or that touches us emotionally and we pass it on.
I don't think there's any right answer. It's just something to ponder as we tweet, share and post in this social media age.
(Also, I'm apparently out of touch because Tom Fletcher's band McFly has been around since 2003 and recorded numerous albums.)