Human sacrifice doesn’t just appease the gods– it’s also what builds a community.
Last year, when I came back from Japan, I had to fly in from Narita Airport in Tokyo straight to Toronto. When I arrived, I realized I wasn’t going home but to a conference instead. But I was exhausted, so I didn’t want to go. But I did go, and had a great time with Brian Clark, Chris Garrett, Chris Brogan, Geoff Livingston and others in the process.
I’ve been thinking about this subject all week after reading an incredible comment on Reddit. Why do we feel lonely or supported? Why do we have full birthday parties (or empty ones, as the case may be)? How can we make more good stuff happen around us?
My theory is that it’s all based around sacrifice. We wrote a little bit about this in Trust Agents, but I want to take it further, because I think reciprocity is a much stronger force than I used to think, and it will take us to good places if we do it right.
I had a dinner party on Saturday, then one of my best friends’ birthdays a few days later, then my co-author’s birthday on the 8th, so it’s a lot to think about. What makes come to our social events, instead of staying home? I suspect it’s sacrifice. In other words, it’s working on someone else’s happiness instead of our own.
Look, we’re all lazy. Sometimes we want to stay home– for you, that may be most of the time. But those times when we sacrifice our own interests and head out to that event our friend is hosting, work on their happiness, we’re increasing the chance that they’ll then come and work on ours.
This is how friendships are built– by doing things together and for each other and making our lives better. It’s how communities are built too, one act of sacrifice at a time (never mind the activities we all take part in and enjoy, obviously).
I think that individuals that sacrifice are, to a certain degree, rewarded. And I think it’s an important part of building social capital online– and it is what we do when we build content for free: sacrificing our own short-term interests for our readers (and our own long-term interest too, obviously).
So maybe it’s a personal short-term sacrifice is a form of long-term gain? I’m not sure. Could we say that human sacrifice makes it rain? :)
I’m thinking out loud at this point, sorry. Does this make sense to you at all?