How to Pay it Forward

When was the last time someone did a small favor for you? How did you repay their kindness? There are many ways to bestow a benediction and not all of them will cost money. Have you ever taken the time to pay it forward online? Did you even realize that this is something you should be doing each and every day?

Doing something nice for others is a basic human rule we should all live by. Sharing a friend’s site link with your network to help bring recognition to your comrade is one way to give back. Sharing invite codes with people who may not otherwise have access to them (instead of giving them out to the usual early-adopter crowd) is another friendly gesture that goes a long way. You most likely got where you are with the help of your followers, so why aren’t you giving the same hand up to others?

Gamers can play it forward, as well. A poster on the site will offer a game at no cost and a thread commenter is chosen to receive the gift. That person plays the game. If they like it, they should purchase another copy to give someone else. If they don’t end up liking the game, they are encouraged to gift a different game to a random player using the same site.

Speaking of gaming, my assistant Kat is a casual World of Warcraft player. Last weekend, her Mage was hanging out in one of the main cities while Kat was busy talking to her fellow guild members. Some random player sent our Kitty an in-game whisper, asking if she would please create a portal for them to another city. Most players do things like this for others in exchange for a tip of gold. Kat, however, always refuses the tip. Instead, she tells the character to pay it forward to another player in some way. Her talking about this to me is what gave me the idea to write this post. I know there are hundreds – if not thousands – of small ways we can help others while we are busy living our lives online.

You don’t have to be a gamer in order to participate, of course. You can be a Twitter addict or Facebook junkie. Why not give something to your friends’ Farmville crops without expecting (or begging for) items in return? Perhaps you know someone new to Twitter whom you believe has good things to say. You could always throw out a dreaded #FF Tweet to help them make new connections.

My challenge to you is simple: think back to the times someone has helped you for no reason other than to be kind. Now, go forth into the online world and pay it forward. I’d love to hear the ways you accomplish this task, so be sure to leave a comment here and share your experience with the community.

One thought on “How to Pay it Forward”

  1. In the offline world: I was heading to work, when my tire blew a flat. I had a spare, I had the lug wrench…but no jack.

    A guy saw my situation, pulled over, and was not only ready to switch out the tire, but saw what the problem was – a nail – and whipped out fix-a-flat and a tire patch kit, there on the spot.

    I tried to thank him, he related a “pay it forward” story to me, then told me to continue to pay it forward, for him.

    So one day, it was maybe a little rainy, and I was seeing a motorcycle offroad, with the owner dead exhausted, walking it, roadside. I asked if there was someone I could call on my cellphone. He stated he didn’t have anyone – that he was from an area some counties away. His bike needed a jump-start. I had him follow me to a nearby gas station, and barged in, asking around for a set of jumps – and the cashier had a set.

    I followed her to her car, told her what I was up to, while the fella walked his bike nearby. Jump completed, cables handed back, the guy kept trying to find a way to repay me.

    “Pay it forward”, I said, relating my tale – in earshot of the cashier and the guy on motorcycle.

    So one day, my jeep stalls out, and I’m in a bit of a slow-burn panic, and there’s this motorcyclist, in the middle of the night, pulls over to give a hand. I was initially wary, but I told him what was up. He fixes the problem, tells me, “pay it forward”.

    He then tells The Tale of Paying it Forward…and, as I listened, he began – first, with his own tale, then, with a tale of a girl with “all these necklaces” coming up from nowhere, helped a friend of a friend”, who paid it forward to his friend, who then paid it forward to him…I grinned, drew my jacket out of the way, revealing the odd necklaces I have a habit of wearing. We shared a laugh. He could have been referencing me – who knows?

    At any rate: first time you pay it forward, that’s the time you paid the one favor back. After that point, you’re just doing it for the great feeling it gives.

    In my facebook games [yes, I play a few], I have given gifts to several newcomers to try to boost ’em…including collection items that are hard to come by. It’s only fair…I only got hooked when an online friend loaded me up in virtual swag to boost my newbie status.

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