Sunday, 5 April 2015

Why I Share Stuff






Only recently have I started to ask myself this question. Whether it's stories, quotes, reflections, random information or photos, some of us do love social sharing. Now with the Internet and social media, it literally takes us seconds to do so. But what motivates us to share? What are the driving forces behind that habit?


Since some of what I share is created by myself while the rest is content that I enjoy, I thought that to understand why I personally share, I first have to reach the source and understand why I initially create.

For photos, sometimes I would be sitting somewhere, perhaps in nature, and I spot a beautiful sight. Something internal happens to me that I feel compelled to make the effort to get the camera out and capture that beauty. I see the shot in my head first then I proceed to capture it, or attempt to capture it.

In the case of writing, thoughts simply invade my mind. So writing them down becomes the natural, and possibly also the therapeutic, thing to do. I also write to explore my thoughts and comprehend my psyche.

During writing, I get into an intoxicating state when time seems to stop. Yet, I'm ecstatic, inspired and motivated beyond measure. I find myself in some sort of a trance, during which I forget to eat and to take my daily shower. This was something I have never experienced before, especially not naturally. It was when I realized that I had just found my true calling and vocation and that I should keep writing for life.

As I came to find out, in psychology, this transcendental state of complete immersion in an activity is called Flow State, also known as The Zone. It is defined as “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” During Flow, action and awareness merge, allowing the person to fully concentrate on the present moment — their Here and Now. Nothing else matters at the time. The reason why it was called ‘flow’ is that people described their experiences using the metaphor of a water current carrying them along. 


Recently, I learned how to tap into The Zone while drumming as well. And since music activates, stimulates, and uses the entire brain, I am always left with an ethereal experience. You can read more about it in this earlier piece, How Drumming Changed The Way My Brain Processes Music.



Sometimes, however, the creation initiative could be cumbersome. I actually spoke to myself about it on certain occasions. Can't you just forget the camera or the notepad and just enjoy? You know, to relax and lie on the grass without interruption, without worrying about getting sand into your somewhat expensive camera or having to reach your notepad to scribble a reflection.

I would be sitting, alone or with someone, and I just jump up to capture this shot or to write that thought. It feels a little weird, yet, again, I cannot help it. When I encounter those moments, it is usually when the best inspiration come unto me.

Other times, depending on the nature of the topic, I lock myself in for 10 days or two weeks until I finish what I'm working on. I can never fully enjoy something else till I am done with the ‘project’. Solitude then becomes key; without it, I would have never been able to finish writing a book. Somehow, the compulsion that drives me further ahead is always present. 


Then, when the content has been created, the next step is to share it. Because, as an artist, what's the point of keeping your creation to yourself? There is absolutely no good reason to do so. And today's technology is making the sharing part ridiculously easy and convenient.

Through my sharing, I always like to add something of value to my readers and followers; whether it is a new perspective, knowledge, inspiration, or a smile. Though I never share my thoughts to convince anyone with anything. I particularly share them so that others may enjoy my point of view — and my confusion. I share to keep my insanity. I share so that those who think alike know that they are not alone. I share for others to think for themselves; for them to question everything; for them to find their own Truth. For I am them and what I see is me.

Remembering Maya Angelou's words: A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. I found that this is how my artistic creativity sets me free. Fortunately, what I currently do in life from writing, photography, and blogging is all about passionately sharing that creativity.

You can find much more about The Writing Process and the Creative Block in this other exposé of mine.



Raising the question herein of why I share stuff made me remember how back in the days before the digital era or the Internet, I was the guy with the camera among my small group of friends. When we traveled, I would take the 36 photos x two or three Kodak rolls. Then once back from the trip, I would develop them at the nearby photo shop, sometimes making copies for my buddies.

No wonder that years later I'm left with over 80 photo albums kept in my flat in Cairo. During my last visit, I actually digitalized 55 of them and now they are on here, again, to share. It truly is a waste to keep all these beautiful memories in dusty drawers and forgotten boxes. 

The same inquiry also made me think of how some of my 900 + Facebook friends never share. Others, rarely posted anything in those last eight years. Those two groups are on a “read-only” mode. Then there are those who don't really use Facebook that much and the account is just there. Only a few of my virtual friends are in constant sharing mode like myself. And something I have noticed is that most of those folks are happy, positive people who have had their fair share of hardship in life. 

“A creative person has little power over his own life. He is not free.
He is captive and driven by his daimon.”― Carl G. Jung


Wanting to know more about the psychology behind this social sharing habit, I checked a few articles about the topic. As the above infograph shows, people share for different reasons. This wide variety is why I deliberately chose to title the article “Why I Share,” rather than “Why We Share”. Simply because it is too broad and I can only speak for myself if I were to get into details.

According to Jonah Berger, the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Contagious: Why Things Catch On”, as well as a study published in Psychological Science, the sharing of stories or information may partly be driven by arousal. When people are physiologically aroused, whether due to emotional stimuli or otherwise, the autonomic nervous is activated, which then boosts social transmission. In other words, evoking certain emotions can help increase the chance of a message being shared.

So, whenever I occasionally wonder why I care about sharing stuff instead of selfishly enjoying them alone, I simply remind myself that I am certainly enjoying, but making that extra effort and sharing that enjoyment allows me two things:

First, to enjoy it even more when others enjoy it with me. In psychological terms, I'm already aroused and I'll get even more aroused when others join in with their own arousal. Sounds quite sexual, doesn't it.

Well, in actual fact, researchers have found that learning new words activates the same parts of the brain as sex and drugs. So in case language gets you horny, high or both, worry not, it's completely natural. You can learn more about the science behind it on Here.

Second, sharing offers me, and others, a chance to enjoy the experience again at a later time, especially when it's my own creation. Resonating with what Anaïs Nin said: “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.



In conclusion, I like to create art because I fell in love with the creator mindset. As Jung words it, in a way I am a captive of my inner daimon. That's why, as noted earlier, I often feel that I cannot really help it. I actually now feel unsettled and “not right”, for lack of a better word, if I stopped creating AND sharing. Not that I'm complaining, I can actually confidently say that these have been the best days of my life so far.

I also sincerely believe that we are here on Earth to learn, grow, and create stuff that hasn't existed before. That is how we evolve. Whether it's love or knowledge, sharing has always been a major catalyst to the evolution of mankind throughout history. It naturally stems from wanting to increase and better that love or knowledge. For sharing is truly caring.



“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”
― Osho



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