I do not mean to offend.. but let me at least try.
I come from an era of the letter. You may recall these paper things
that ancient folk used to communicate with each other. At school
we were taught the convention of the letter. It involved a few
basic niceties that became the template for all communication. Let
me explain the purpose of each aspect of the letter.
First the address of the sender. This provides the opportunity not
only for the receiver to return a letter if so needed, but also
gives some point of reference in respect of the sender. In simple
terms you knew where they lived or resided when sending the letter.
Next is the date and possibly a reference. Self explanatory.
Moving to the letter it would either refer to you by name or give
a general 'Dear Sir or Madam'. All very polite. This reference in
itself would infer whether the sender knew you by name.
To the letter itself. If the letter formed a request it would
carry a few basic elements of information.
How the sender knew you.
How the sender came across your details.
Maybe referencing something you had written or published.
Maybe a response to a help request.
In setting out these first elements the author would be able to
give some detail about themself and why they felt this would
warrant a written request. All the time the sender is trying to
impress good cause for why you should maybe help them.
Finally there is the point of the communication. This then is
often followed by a conciliatory comment accepting your decision
if you were minded to decline.
The letter is then signed and maybe a telephone number added.
There you have it a simple letter and one which forms the basis
of many a letters I have sent and received in my lifetime.
That was until now.
Enter Twitter, Facebook and Social Media. For some reason none of
the above now matters. All that an individual needs to do is ask
for something in a simple one line statement and then expect to
be given said item. Probably by return. This form of entitlement
also gives the sender the right to never communicate with you
ever again. All they wanted was the information or data. Following
that transaction you are of no further use.
Social niceties are a thing of the past. We live in a world where
everyone and their dog think they are 'entitled' to what ever you
have, regardless of who you are and how important that thing is
that you have so studiously acquired. ' Let me has your stuff '.
I get mails like this all the time.
' Hi. I see you have an original copy of the bible. Do us a favour
and photocopy it for me and mail it across. '
I have been requested I spend all my time scanning a complete set
of magazines for someone. So funny.
Here is the thing .... If I were to get a request that started
with a presumption that the sender was ' not entitled ' to said
document, data etc and they appreciated the inconvenience and
effort to me the provider, I may just help. But someone that
just point blank asks for something without even giving the
slightest shred of detail about themselves and their interests
and what my work means to them, can seriously go back to their
social media buddies and cry on their shoulders.
One imortant thing. I do not distribute copyright material. I also
never like ever copy and distribute Workbench disks. I once
had a full set of my own PD disks online until I started getting
insulting private mails from individual demanding more. So I
just took it all offline. The abuse I got from one particular
Amiga forum was astounding.
I could have just responded to this latest request with a 'no'
but I thought I would use the occasion to demonstrate what I
have; what I worked very hard to create; what I have acquired
using my energies and money over the years. We are all blessed
with a life and time, and are able to do the same things if we
so choose to make the effort. Many of us struggle each and
every day for those things we keep to our hearts. Sharing
is not a 'given'. It is not a product of selfish human activity.
To give is a most significant act that should be viewed as a
rewarding experience. It normally follows a period of
reflection in respect of the merit of those making the request.
To deny the giver any chance of appreciating the worth of the
request takes away a most human of interactions. Believe me
when I say that current social media trends have no place in
the true processes of 'REAL' human interaction. It has taken
away everything we developed as a social caring 'eye to eye'
society and replaced it with anonymous bollocks.
Sorry for that.
I live my life by four doctrines. The first and most important
doctrine states that all humans are selfish. There is no such
thing as a selfless act. Appreciating this avoids the sad
disappointment that you experience when you give and are
taken for granted.