I had a big fallout with a family who helped me through tough times. The accounting on helping didn't match each other's expectations. Partly my fault, partly their. But every relationship has a loyalty index. You invest time in helping the person, through action, information, and money, building the value of the index, but eventually, the balance of the relationship depends on the time invested in communicating. Unless there is an open line between the two, the loyalty is on its way to expiration. In loyalty, Expectations are never communicated openly. Each party depends on their individual evaluation of the relationship to set expectations. Communicating explicitly is seen as an insult to the relationship. But it is not.
Relationships expire when you have accumulated responsibilities, and the sense of entitlement blinds us from reality.
Marketers have successfully persuaded us that a car, house, mobile phone, iPad, iWatch, iwhat else, is a necessity and not a luxury. They appeal to our search for meaning. Social Media builds on the search by giving the false impression that what you have to share is important and might have an impact on the society. It is just one person after the other echoing their fears, or what it seems to be clever or political observation to the network. Even the most obsolete message, add to the 'newness' of social media.
With a new update or a Tweet, our search for meaning is triggered. When the moment passes, the angst remains. We feel entitled again. How dare no one gives me new stimuli. If you want to observe our entitlement, see how we respond to new technology. When broadband was introduced, even a small pause in loading a video infuriated us, forgetting that not long time ago, we used to watch porn on dial-up. The same is with any technology or lifestyle. Once you have a car, it is impossible to walk or catch a bus as a regular alternative. We expect companies to swoon us, rub our genitals with courtesy massages, and forget that there is someone else trying hard to make a living. The push to "be different" have set up impossible expectations on how to treat the customers.
The Customers, pampered, through every stage of the buying cycle, doesn't switch roles to human beings, and begins to expect to be babysitted in real life with real relationships. Everyone has some form of entitlement on the way they should be treated, appreciated, and helped. Unfortunately, nothing in life is for free. When someone helps you, there is alway a hint that you have to pay back in some form - in information, money, time or action. It is the same for Business and life. We mistake help and common courtesy for unconditional love.
Not even your mother loves you unconditionally. They created you as a mean to escape from something - a bad relationship, realization that their career was not going anywhere or maybe all they had was a successful career or the simple recognition that the entire charade about life - dressing up, seducing each other through beauty, power, money or fame, and succeeding, is a way to attract the right mate. Maybe she didn't get the right mate. Nevertheless, she is 'entitled' to propagate the gene. Maybe it was an investment into a better future.
Most bad relationships are based on the expectation that the "better future" will be contributed by the person you help. Even Businesses are 'nice' to you hoping that you would Share the 'awesome' experience in Social Media and help them make more money. Conditional help is the worst form of cooperation. In Business, it works, but in real life, it will eventually lead to heartache, because no one is good at account keeping. Don't do it consciously. At a subconscious level, we are all selfish creatures, only worried about our survival.
The expectations from the person seeking loyalty from you remain the same because they are dependent on the dynamics of the relationship you had with the person at a different time. We change every five years in responsibilities, goals, and ambitions. Someone's impression of you, five or ten years back is completely different. You won't even recognize the person you were five years ago. You have moved on. Your thoughts have changed. Your goals have changed and sometimes, life's ups and downs have given you a new set of values.
No one owes you anything. You are on your own. You can distract by showing that you have a loving wife or a son, but each of them is in their world, fighting their fears, learning, and distracting themselves from death. You might have great friends in school and college. Now they are just a memory. You moved on to a new location, a new life with a different set of friends, and daily chores. Proximity to the person encourages communication. Even if the person is in the same city, the lack of regular communication will slowly put an expiration date on the relationship.
Every relationship is on its way to expiration unless you put in the time to communicate regularly, except for families, because you have already invested 18 years to that dynamics. It takes a momentous selfish act to destroy the chord. Look back at people who you have kept communicating. They are the only ones you want to have in your life. Rest of them have turned into an obligation.
Obligations based on loyalty and shared memories will never be sustainable. At a subconscious level, friends and family, who are your acquaintances, has nothing to offer you. What is happening in someone else's life doesn't interest you if the information that they are sharing doesn't add a new perspective to your life or gives your information that you can use in achieving your goals or help you in survival. If all that is shared are pleasantries, the relationship turns into Obligation.
The reason why people have 800 friends on Facebook and no friends to talk to, is from societal pressure to hang on to a relationship when it has nothing to offer. Maybe, you want to desperately show your old friends that you have made it or show that you have created a new life, a new loyal group of your own, but eventually, after the high of sharing intimate moments, the question remains. Why am I here?
Loyalty by definition requires you to shun your personal preferences for the benefit of the group or the relationship. That is why you see Sports Fanatics, cheering a star player when they are on a team, but booing the same person, when he switches side. That is why you forego a great Sunday morning to sleep late and take all the trouble to dress up and hear Sermons from people who have never lived their life. That is why you hang on to a relationship that has nothing much to offer.
The more you go back in time to reminisce a great moment in a relationship, the more you have to realize that the Loyalty has expired. You have used up the good part of the bargain, or they didn't use up the bargain when they had a chance.
Our selfishness always wins over social constructs.
Cooperation helped us survive greater uncertainties, but when you reach a point in the human race with comforts and lifestyle unimaginable 100 years ago, attention is the only resource that will give you an edge over your competition. Channeling attention to activities that interest you require you to terminate loyalty.
So what is Loyalty in this new world?
"You had given me X; I will give you Y" - the very definition of a Business.
Loyalty as a Business transaction has more meaning in our life than unending favours in one direction. You are more likely to shop from a local retailer every week, meeting them on their premise, collecting what you want, and paying your hard-earned money while retaining the loyalty points than calling your old friend from school and talking to them about life. In a Business transaction, Loyalty is rewarded in money. In real-life you have to define what the reward means.
We are terrible at finding meaning from intangibles. We are even worse at finding satisfaction from actions that acts as a balancing act for the favors received. Our memory is short, and our sense of entitlement makes it harder, to find pleasure or meaning from such acts.
Our life is a sine wave of pleasure and meaning, interrupted by bouts of uncertainty and suffering. Loyalty does give pleasure for a short time then it turns to uncertainty - a state we desperately avoid.