Altruism for Attention Whores

Since I just donated blood this morning, I’m going to share this theory on the psychology of donation.

I think that giving blood (or platelets, or plasma, or bone marrow to be really hardcore) is uniquely satisfying to the donor because it serves two very different impulses: the desire for attention, and the desire to do something good.

More importantly, it serves the desire to do good without doing very much. You just get your butt in the seat and let the nice people with the needles and blood pressure cuffs work you over, I mean fuss over you and ask you questions. Meanwhile they’re all about telling you how nice it was of you to come in and donate. (I got a free calendar today, for example.) The fussing can wear the nerves; all that, “Are you okay, ma’am? Are you okay? How are you feeling?” wears out its welcome for me after about the third time I hear the same question, but some folks just revel in it. Then they give you cookies and send you on your way with these instructions: drink fluids, eat well, and don’t do anything strenuous. That sounds doable! It’s maximum attention with minimal effort combined with moral superiority.

So why don’t more people do it?