There's an interesting cultural conversation going on right now about whether it's better to "give a f**k" or to "not give a f**k." The don't-givers argue that caring is constraining. They say that when we worry about what others think of us, we allow ourselves to be limited. Their premise is that by not giving a f**k, the don't-givers assume power, strength and confidence. That's not to say that the don't-givers are selfish or egotistical - they just aren't willing to accept mainstream definitions of how they should act and what they should do. They want to be their own people - to do what they want to do in their own way. They want to be like Rhett to Scarlett - not only do they not give a f**k, they don't give a damn about what you think either.
The do-givers in this conversation say that the don't-givers are cold. They fault the don't-givers for stifling emotion, and for feeding cultural stereotypes that do-givers are too invested, too irrational, too conforming, too messy in their caring. The do-givers want to show the world that they're paying attention, and they tend to make sense of everything through more conventional channels. Whereas a don't-giver would dismiss a jerk spouting demeaning stuff at work as simply a jerk, a do-giver would dwell on the scenario, analyze it, break it down, acknowledge how it made him/her feel, and then try to figure out how to fix it.
Or at least that's what the tropes and memes tell us. I don't buy it.
The don't-giver and the do-giver are one and the same. Both/and. Also/as well. Flip sides of the same coin. I'm a don't-giver and a do-giver. You are too. It's the only way that we could ever survive. The world is too big, our social interactions are too great, the seconds in our day too immense for us to be either a don't-giver or a do-giver all the time. Let's break it down with an example:
- Running late for work. Cat knocks over the plant for the 18,000th time. Don't-giver
- Daughter asks for more time with mommy at preschool drop-off. Do-giver
- Telemarketer hangs up on me at work. Don't-giver
- Friend calls to ask for a favor. Do-giver
- Look in the mirror and fixate on some imperfection, then decide to shrug it off. Don't-giver
So here's the good lesson o' the day. You don't have to be a "hippy dippy" (as someone described me last week - in that moment, I chose to be a don't-giver!) to make the world a better place. Even if you're a don't-giver 98% of the time, make your 2% of do-giver moments really count for something. Only you know what tugs at your heart strings. The truth is, we're all just human. Perfectly flawed and perfectly insecure, and yet, perfectly capable of doing good things. And if we all just gave 2%, imagine how much good that would be.