Sharing is Dying

by Kimberly Hickok

One of the major skills we were expected to learn in kindergarten was how to share. For me it wasn’t that hard. As the oldest of five children, I was always sharing something – the bathroom, TV, phone. I even had to, horror of horrors, share my bedroom!

Yes. Even in our large four bedroom home in the burbs, I had to share a room. What choice did I have? My parents insisted on taking one of the bedrooms and they let our brother, the only male child, have his own room. Whatever.

Things have really changed in the last 20 years. I love technology. I work for a web development company.

BUT – I worry.

Gone are the days when you called your high school friends and had to endure a brief chat with their mom first. A typical conversation went something like this:


“Hello Mrs. Smith. It’s Kim. May I please speak to Wendy?”

“Sure. How’s your mother?”

“She’s great.”

“Well tell her I said hello. Let me go get Wendy.”

My son is 16. He has his own cell phone and unless I’m constantly interrogating him, I have no idea who he’s talking to. Obviously I monitor what he’s doing but it’s unrealistic to think that I’m going to know about all of the social interactions he’s having on his phone.

My husband and I have our own cell phones which we use almost exclusively. We’re thinking about getting rid of the home phone. We just don’t use it unless we feel like chatting with telemarketers.

In the past the simple act of sharing the telephone meant I had to negotiate phone time with my parents and siblings. I also had to learn phone etiquette if I wanted to keep my phone privileges.

Sharing the TV meant similar negotiations with the family. My parents had a TV in their bedroom but we kids had to share. Again, more negotiations to accommodate everyone. It was certainly annoying at the time. I assumed that my right as firstborn would entitle me to having first dibs, but my parents thought otherwise. Oh well.

So I worry. A lot. A TV in every room, streaming video through WII or Playstation, every family member with his or her own cell phone, Ipods, Ipad . . . well, you get the picture. Today’s families really have to look for opportunities to come together and teach each other to share.

Maybe that’s why cooking together as a family and sharing a meal together  – no phone, no TV – are so important to me.

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Celia September 30, 2011 - 5:38 pm

Oh Kim,
I’ve worried about this for along time too. My kids grew up when home computers were just taking off. There was no “I” Phone, no “I” Pod, no “I” Mac. They had to interact with other human beings, thus learned how to be social. You couldn’t text your girlfriend to break up with her, or impersonally be nasty to someone on line. You actually had to face someone and be nice! I too use all of these “I” tools, but once my husband is safely home from work, I power OFF. Then we actually sit next to each other and talk or share a laugh at a good movie. I worry that not only will sharing die off, but so will manners of any kind. I know I sound like a dinosaur, but no apologies here. ( and by the way, if I ever DO offend, I ‘ll say I’m sorry in person!)

Kim September 30, 2011 - 6:31 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more. I guess that makes both of us ‘dinosaurs’. I do think impersonal communication does lead to an increase in rudeness.


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