The honour system. It’s a really great idea. You get free access to stuff and all you have to do is promise to do “x” in return. It worked for me at varsity. My open door policy had one caveat: use the last of anything in my fridge and you replace it. With the honour system, the only failsafe your own conscience. And for the most part it works. People play the game and all’s well.
The thing is that the honour-system works like an ecosystem: there’s a balance of give and take, use and replace. Upset the balance and the ecosystem goes out of whack and things fall apart*. Social media is a lot like that. There’s a lot of give and take.
As a rule most people are after something: free advice, free ebooks, free publicity. They just take without giving back, without adding value. In a social-media ecosystem (of which the honour-system is a vital component) this kind of parasitic behaviour leads to depletion of goodwill. And that can kill the ecosystem. Economic theory states that “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” There’s a cost to everything be it a direct trade or even a time-spent implication. As much as you want to get something for free, you can’t.
So read a blog, leave a comment. Download a free ebook, give the host some publicity. Get some useful advice, direct other people to the guy in the know. It’s all part of giving and taking.
The strength of an individual and the group to which it belongs are interdependent. Weak individuals weaken a group. Selfishness (be it creative, intellectual or physical) results in a loose-collection of individuals who add no value to each other.
It’s easy to take. Adding value is what sets you apart.
So how much value do you add?
* PS: Here’s a little something extra: “Things Fall Apart” is a really good book by Chinua Achebe. Read a few years ago and made sure I made it a part of collection. Check it out if you get a chance.