Obligation

Responsibility

As I’ve mentioned previously, when I started this blog, it wasn’t really to garner a huge following.  Oh, sure:  in my crazy dreams I’d think about being a full-time blogger once in a while.  But, realistically, I started just as an outlet for some pent-up creativity.  I was using this platform to get some stuff off my chest and to work out issues I was struggling with.

When some people began reading the blog, I was very gratified.  I started writing consistently twice a week back in March of this year, so it’s been going for about 7 months now.  Start Being Your Best currently has a little over 400 subscribers.  I don’t talk about subscriber numbers much here because I don’t think it’s really relevant to what I’m doing.  I’m not looking to build a huge following/tribe/whatever right now.  I’m still looking at this as a location where I can write about things that I think about and are important to me.  The only thing that’s changed is that now I can get some feedback, suggestions and discussion that provokes more consideration on my part.

I want to THANK you all for that.  Your comments and discussion has been invaluable to me.

What’s struck me recently is that I’ve used the attention that I’ve garnered as something of a motivator to keep going.  I’ve created an obligation to you, my readers, that I will consistently post on the topics of self-improvement and leadership.

That’s a good thing.  I often need to feel like I’m accountable to someone in order to keep from slacking off.  I’m sure many of you feel the same way about things in your life, and are happy to have someone “check up on you” from time to time.

Here’s my question: how far do we take this “obligation situation”?  When you create an artificial sense of accountability (as opposed to, say, a parent’s duty to care for their children), how far do you go in order to keep that?

Let’s do a thought experiment, shall we?

Let’s say, for instance, that you’re writing a blog that a certain person relies on for their sole source of support and encouragement (This is PURELY HYPOTHETICAL.  I am unaware of anyone who views this particular blog in this manner).  Then let’s further assume that, for some reason, you decide it’s time for you to hang up your keyboard.  What you’re writing about (let’s keep it easy and say it was a personal development blog) is still relevant and helpful to you, but you’re just not interested in posting your thoughts any more in a public manner.

You quit posting, and in a couple of weeks, you start receiving some form of communication (emails, comments on old posts, whatever) from this one individual that indicates that your decision to stop blogging is negatively impacting their well-being.  Take that however you’d like.  They could be really bummed out about it, all the way down to emotionally distraught and perhaps a danger to themselves.

This person tells you that the fact that you’ve stopped blogging is what drove them to this state.  Furthermore, they assure you that things will get better if you just start writing again.

What’s your obligation here?

As people who are trying to become better, our obligation to our fellow humans is quite large.  I believe that we’re put here on this earth to show concern for others.  But what does that really mean?  Do we need to sacrifice every shred of our own desires in service to our fellow human beings, or are we only obligated to help others if it coincides with our own self-interest?  Or is the answer somewhere in between?

These types of commitments could obviously apply to a lot of situations (someone starts a business that has employees who would be adversely affected if that person sells the business, for instance).  But what do you think?  Are these “social contracts” that we create all the time by implication (you never promised to blog or own that business forever and ever, did you?) actual obligations?  I’d be interested to hear all of your comments here.

7 thoughts on “Obligation”

  1. Hi Jason,
    I am one of your 400+ subscribers, 🙂
    Yes, this obligation thing! Especially with text messages on phones nowadays, it's easy to have someone get depressed because they did not receive 10 text messages a day….:-(
    I really wonder how that should go, so I'm really looking forward to see what others will say about it.
    I am a believer in God, and I think that God should be the only one we "obligate" to keep our sanity. If we do not do that, we tend to rely on people (and things) and these can be very temporal. The people may change, their moods may get altered, they could develop new priorities that do not include you. Not because they don't want you, but simply because you chose them, and they already had their own life happening and going on….and you just happened to be one of their fans, you know?? It can be very hurtful, but the sooner one gets oneself grounded in something eternal (preferably God), the longer one will experience true happiness and serenity and security (and the shorter too the pain of disillusionment after some person you "obligated" (pardon the language there, lol) turns their back on you and walks away – sometimes not even knowing that their actions are affecting you non-positively.)
    Hey cheers Jason,
    And keep up the good work (and no, I will not be a danger to myself if you stop writing, lol)
    But keep it up all the same.
    Kudos.
    Anngladys.

  2. Hey Jason,
    To keep things short, such a hypothetical person would just have to deal with it. Take a real example like me, i would be disappointed if such a decision was made by you to quit blogging but its ultimately your decision. Its pure selfish to keep you doing what you dislike. Your fans are here to support you not to hold you back.

    Im sure this wouldnt happen though, such a dilemma like what you've mentioned will only make you blog more.
    Keep up the good work

    James

  3. You have no obligation unless you've, up front, created some form of contract. Not a legal one, but a formalized agreement. It might be in the form of your blog bio or whatever. Then you'd be in breach of contract in a sense. But really, you have no responsbility over the actions and reactions of another. Only yours. So insofar as you respond to their complaint of your cessation, that's your responsibility. I wouldn't call it self-interest. If you are following your gut, you won't mess with anybody else's trip naturally.

    Peace.

  4. Thanks, folks, for the comments. Just want to clarify (and I was kinda worried when I posted), but I'm not thinking about quitting or anything. It was just a question I had been considering stemming from my acknowledgement of the non-formal, implied contract that I have with you readers. As I mentioned, you folks are AWESOME and I really enjoy doing what I do here. Thanks again!

  5. You don't want anybody to be wholly reliant on you. That is not healthy for you or them, and if you lose your passion for this than don't try to drag it on. No matter how much I enjoy reading your articles. If someone was to say that you had harmed them they would really just be blaming their problems on you.

    I can definitely understand what you mean about having a responsibility to your readers though. Especially when writing personal development. The responsibility goes beyond simply writing, for me to write things like this I have to do experiments in my own life, on finding a way to live that is just a little better.

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