Serious problem of reciprocity

today I would like to write about giving presents, doing favors, blogging and twitter, all of those things have something special in common.

This is called reciprocity. It’s synonyms could also be mutuality or intercommunity, let me give an example.

When somebody gives you some present, it may even be unexpected or the present is really, really great, you feel like you should give it back to them to equal the values of both sides to erase some kind of “debt”. This does not need to be materialistic, I can even imagine when it could be even emotional or so. Or somebody helps you so you feel that you should do the same to him. This is reciprocity and it seems to me that it is simply everywhere.

Reciprocity does not always work in this way but it can also work like revenge. When somebody does you something bad, you will feel that you want to return it to them, to make revenge. And well revenge seems like a bad thing, so is reciprocity bad? Should we feel it and behive like it says to us?

I mean when somebody does something nice to you, you should not feel that you should do the same thing. I am not saying that you should not be grateful or so, but do not get manipulated by someones behavior even if it is in a nice manner. You should not be in debt because somebody did something you did not even ask for, imagine getting money but having to pay it back with interest without somebody asking you if you need it.

Reciprocity is a great manipulating tool and it works perfectly because we are so deeply used to it.

When I wrote that reciprocity has to do a lot with blogging and twitter I meant this:
I feel that this happens to me a lot, especially on Twitter where lot of people simply hunt down new followers to get higher numbers on their twitter. I even found an account with 25,000 followers which is not a bad number at all when I consider mine: 16.. but at the same time, the person had 24,500 people who they followed. Now if you have never been on twitter you can not imagine how it looks like but I follow 70 people, those are mostly some famous people, organizations as NASA and so on so they are very active. I get hundreds of tweets every day but if I look at it thrice a day I can get through it and look on everything they posted, most is not so important to me, so it is pretty fast. Imagine what a tide of new tweets you must get when you have 24,500 follows, you are totally flooded and every time you refresh page there are tens of new tweets.

Why those people have so many of them? Reciprocity. They give a follow to you and wait day or two, if you follow them, sometimes under the effect of reciprocity you will keep their follow but if you do not you will lose their interest. This is a clear example of reciprocity because you feel as though you should look on their account and check out their work and even give them follow while otherwise without the effect you would most probably skip them because they are too boring.

Now I was just throwing it whole down but actually it may have a normal use, even the “golden rule” in ethics is a kind of reciprocity:

One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself

Or also in international politics this is used frequently. When one state gives the other some benefits it is usually followed by the other state doing the same, because it is just fair on the international level. Or this of course may be used in negative way with sanctions.

So I am not saying that you should not follow reciprocity at all, I am just saying that you should not feel disappointed in somebody when she or he does not return your favor because you have done it in free will and they also have a free will to decide if they will return it. At last:

You will never know all the details, but you have to count on all of them

This was kind of strange post for my blog but I have been thinking about this for some time already so I decided to share it with you, thanks for reading.






7 thoughts on “Serious problem of reciprocity

  1. Good post, and a very complex subject to write on.

    I generally live by the idea to not expect much from most people and things…that way I’m not disappointed. Likewise, if something beneficial comes from it, it’s a pleasant surprise. lol

    It’s kind of a warped way of viewing things, but I understand that people do what’s in their best interest first before they even consider someone else in their decisions and actions. Similarly, the follow-through that people make and the genuineness of their commitment falls into the same category.

    I guess you can only be true to yourself, and find a way to gain acceptance and understanding that the attitudes and actions of other people is well outside of our control.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I was struggling with some words, I hope it was understandable!

      I agree, while for a long time I was deep inside my mind doing things to get back what I gave, I think I now learned a lot so I no longer expect of people to do for me so much, as you said, you are never disappointed but always well surprised!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your point was quite clear.

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t do things for other people, there is a great benefit to altruism. But I’m a pragmatist, and I think we’ve all been burned by others lack of reciprocity…or have seen other people’s reactions to our efforts result in the exact opposite of what we intended. I feel that the lowering of certain expectations is a defense mechanism to help cope with the selfishness of others, while letting those who consistently rise above that bar truly stand out to us in a positive light.

        Liked by 1 person

        • No no, I think I understand what you mean.
          I totally agree that altruism is very good thing and I think that both of us will agree that altruism should not work on the base of reciprocity since it would ruin the whole point of altruism: “I will do something for you just because I expect you to do the same.”
          I hope I did not misintepreted your comments.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. abyssbrain says:

    “It’s better to give than to receive.”

    You will always hear these quote which made it kind of cliche. However, I personally agree with this quote very much especially if I give something to people who are in need.

    Yes, it doesn’t have to be a material gift. When I was still performing magic professionally, I would go to hospitals and home for the aged to perform magic for free. The happiness that those children and elders feel are very contagious and inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that is very kind of you! (I would love to see some of your magic tricks! They must have been fabulous!) Anyway this is very very good point which I forgot to mention. Of course that charity does not and should not work on the principle of reciprocity as for example yours “doing magic” in hospitals where you simply do not need anything from those people because as you said, their happiness is enough for you. When I have time I will definitely extend the post with this part! Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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