Since it is nearing the season of Christmas, I figured I could write about “nice things.”
Also, I hope you can forgive my punny title. I am about to unleash a novel of feelings and thoughts here about such nice things.
After recently watching Ryan Higa’s latest video about Holiday Ninjas for this year’s edition, he made an honest and realistic point about selfishness. Even though there are many people like him who give generously, realistically part of the joy is the joy we receive when we make others happy. In a sense, when we do things for others, we essentially do it for ourselves to make us feel better about ourselves.
Of course, this perspective has many facets to it – not all people feel this way or has different complex feelings about an interaction. This is especially the case for online environments where our persona psychology even has mixed elements of our real selves versus our online selves. This post will explore these different facets when I give my time or resources to help others online.
First and foremost, I have several feelings and thoughts that run through my mind the first thing someone asks for something. The very first thing I look at is who that person is – is it my good old buddy, or someone I just met? Regardless of how much I know someone, I always try to help everyone out the same. However, that doesn’t mean it is easy to treat everyone the same. Some people I may have bad impressions on, or I know do not really need or “deserve” my help. Still, I cannot help but feel at the very least, obligated to because it has been that way for as long as I’ve been playing DDO, once I came to understand the game and was capable of such “help.”
As a Christian I was raised and taught to be a giving person, so in a sense it has almost become a habit (such a bad way to put it, but that’s honestly how it feels sometimes!). I often do things mindlessly almost, when someone needs help, I just automatically respond as if someone just flips a switch. There is no emotion or feelings sometimes, and when someone is grateful and responds in thanks, online communication makes it easy to make it no big deal when all I need to respond back is with a simple “np.”
Lots of malicious thoughts run through my mind, believe it or not, every time someone asks me for something. I guess paranoia really does run in the family – I always think my sisters are so paranoid but even I know that some of it resides in me too. Like “What if this guy or that person is just using me (which I know the ones who do)?” or “This person really doesn’t try to do things on his or her own…” Of course, this extends to even the smallest things like when people get too comfortable questing with me and expect me to do everything – and when something isn’t done, someone or some people get confused and/or irritated. This is not a matter of communication – if it was, trust me, there would be an easy solution to that.
It’s important to keep in mind that people are still people no matter what. Despite people being overly greedy or persistent online just to get what they want, some people see things differently. Being helped and helping others may be their token of currency in a friendship. Maybe some people are persistent because they need something, even if its virtual, to hold onto because of whatever reason it may be tied to real life or online. Perhaps people do it for status or reputation. I could keep over-analyzing everything. It could be anything. And its important to keep that in mind.
In a sense, I am unpredictable. I say one thing, but keep something in the back of my mind, and then another after another. It’s like a constant war of black and white in my mind.
Some friends tend to think that something must be X or Y. These are my logical and reasonable friends. Sometimes they just like to point out things for the sake of argument, other times they strongly believe it is so because that is what it must be. The latter tends to strongly disagree with the way I think – honestly, in this world you will never know everything. What makes (general) you think that the online environment, of all places, is the most reliable? Of course, this is half self bashing as I tend to think information regarding game mechanics are this or that way, or something of the sort. Like I said, I say one thing, but I am able to find some perspective of exclusion. Because of this wishy-washy unpredictable mess of whatever you call it, the question of self identity always remains a big one to even myself. Well, all teenagers go through this. Maybe I am just stuck in the mind (and body) of a teenager, considering how much I still make fart jokes. *toot*
But let’s not make this a gloom and doom post entirely. What I meant to write about initially was the fact that giving still never has lost its intrinsic glow, even if it be dim some days. Perhaps I have grown too accustomed to expecting a thanks. That has always bothered me because there is nothing more that I hate when people expect me to do things for them (this even applies for friends, depending on my mood) without even asking at the very least. Maybe I am just too obsessed over the fact that I need something in return (not necessarily physical payback) and at the very least I should be in control of my own will.
Being “nice” to people has always been a part of who I was I guess. Honestly, my entire personality is nothing more than a mirror – when people are happy, I am happy. When things are tense, so am I. This is one of the reasons why group harmony is so important to me because if one person is unhappy, then it becomes a thorn that will always remind me of it.
At the same time, I enjoy helping others. Some friends like to help others too, but for the intrinsic reward of “feeling good” about it. That is a good incentive, but to me it feels so shallow. To be honest, a lot of things that are seemingly good seem shallow – the “reward” of heaven, the “reward” of doing good things in turn to do good things to you (karma). Those are good things, but in itself also a shallow reward. I don’t know how to exactly explain it, but to me, a pure kind heart doesn’t expect anything, not even the idea of even an intrinsic reward, back. And I try to model that because not everything in life has to be about receiving. Of course, this can be a bad thing in the mind of a normal human because we will view the world as always taking from us. Perhaps that is why sometimes I am so bitter when people ask for my help. It can be a purely good thing, but a bad thing for the human nature.
I’ve always never knew how to explain what was purely good. It was just a gut feeling, and I suppose my own definition of what it meant to be that. In a sense, I was measuring such standards in the words and actions of God and what He did for us, through His example.
But I never really explained what I enjoyed about helping others. Is it their token of appreciation, whether verbal or physical? Was it the same joy that my friends feel in helping others they “help themselves”? To me, I think it is a little deeper than that. Again, some of my feelings and thoughts are hard to explain because they just seem so complex. I tend to project myself in other people’s shoes often – again with the whole “mirror” thing. I think this is how I try to understand others too, by always imagining how they feel and trying to replicate that by putting myself in their shoes. Perhaps this can be a bad thing or annoying for others who don’t like it when people do this and act like they know everything. But for me, it is my way of connecting with others, by feeling the joy they feel or whatever emotion it may be. I understand why they need my help, why they are thankful, and sometimes because of this I do not need their verbal thanks. In a way I guess this is the nonverbal “reading” that is rare online since you don’t really get such cues like you do in real life. But they are there in their own subtle way.
The question “Why do nice things for others?” has always been a multifaceted, mixed response for me. Often I don’t even realize that I “help” people anymore. It has just become a part of my (both online and real) life. But I know to be careful of that because it has its own consequences. Some days I fight with my inner self to ignore those who literally send me tells only when they need help. In fact, I’m pretty sure this entire post/rant was inspired by an incident of that which happened yesterday evening. But I wanted to also pour forth my thoughts – both the good and the bad – over this subject for a while. I didn’t realize how much I thought badly of it until I wrote this, while still keeping my reasons for why I still do it in mind.
The best answer I’ve always had deep down to that question was to “pass it forward.” In this case, pass this behavior forward. Pass the acts of kindness forward and apply it to your life. Don’t do nice things for others in front of me just because I have done good things to you, but do it because you wish to, and you want to make others happy. Make yourself happy if you so desire out of its “intrinsic reward” but remember that expecting even that may leave you disappointed one day. Don’t do nice things only once in a while to “pay back” those who have been kind to you. I have had many friends who have done so much for me, but they never expected anything back. The greatest thing I can pass forward is my time. But even now, I am limited on that. Nothing in this mundane world will be stable and everlasting.
There was nothing more than that in my heart that I wanted to teach others. To be an example (on a more spiritual level, as Christ has done for us) to get others to be kind to everyone regardless of who they are if you are able to help. I have plenty of friends who are exclusive to only their friends. A lot of people tell me I have many friends, but it wasn’t just because I extended kindness towards them – I genuinely tried to understand them. This is all easier said than done in real life as opposed to online, so I’m much more extroverted where I am comfortable. This also raises the point that people only want to be my friends because they see that they have been helped and may possibly get more out of me – while initially this may or may not be true, I ignore it. What matters is how they treat me and our relationship – it is human instinct to seek those who will be beneficial to you. Overcoming that means truly reciprocating the friendship. Being a college student, I am surrounded by folks who say “make connections so you can get your foot in the door.” I could not find a more distasteful philosophy than that. It is necessary sadly, but I’m disgusted by it. Of course, it doesn’t mean that I still can’t form healthy and long term relationships from it.
In the end, I hope that people are not kind only during the Christmas season. Kindness should never be a seasonal thing. There is an Indian saying and tradition that couples do not necessarily celebrate Valentine’s Day because love should be spontaneous, every day. That is how I see of this. I am reminded of a guildie who said “Where is your Christmas spirit?!” but when I really think about that saying, it kind of implies the opposite of what I believe. Actually, a lot of my friends believe in paying back what they were given. But that kind of defeats the purpose if the giver doesn’t even expect anything back – it is merely a gift at that point. I tend to be persistent in giving back as well (after all, I always say people have given me many things and I need to pay it back). But deep down, even if I were to “pay it all back” that wouldn’t mean I would stop doing nice things. I think when you reach that conclusion, logically, it would make sense to not worry about these kinds of things. I, as well as many others, have to learn how to truly accept a gift, and the feelings behind them. I’ve gotten a bit better at it, but as with a lot of people, I am sure that there is that nagging voice calling us greedy.
In any case, this was a deep topic to post about, and very personal too. The important thing is to ultimately be yourself – if being nice to every stranger on the street is not you, then that’s not you. But if you agree with the sentiment and thoughts here, perhaps that could be you. That is what makes a part of me, and I can always strive in hopes that others may follow. Wow, I am making this sound like more religious than this post already is, haha! Either ways, I want to respect the choices of others even if I don’t agree. I wonder if people can truly feel this message through my actions, all this time and up until now. That is, now that I have articulated these feelings out.