Look at me

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Everyone needs attention, like we need to eat. This is not controversial, nor is it hard to understand. But the idea must be slippery, because it will not stick. If we could keep in mind that people need attention, it would change the way we see almost everything they do, from art to crime, from romance to terrorism. And we must. Facebook alone harvests and sells the attention of 1.4 billion people every day. That’s about a fifth of the world. This alarms some people, and it is a big change. But we can’t know what to make of it until we understand what people need attention for… More at The Guardian.

I struggle to look at the likes of Facebook sometimes because it does feel like the majority are pretending their lives are better than they really are. They are projecting an unreal fantasy, but then again do we not do this all of the time anyway?

2 thoughts on “Look at me

  1. Not sure that everyone needs attention, but certainly most people do to some degree. The question really depends on how you define attention. Is the flip side loneliness? Most people feel lonely if there’s no one in their lives. However, I do not equate either to likes or lack thereof.

    The article states that “Attention is other people thinking about you.” I suppose a like is someone thinking about you however brief that thought might be. It seems that people aren’t concerned whether the attention is sincere and thoughtful, or simply a click because what the hell.

    As for whether attention is the defining need of our times, it’s just easier to think that lots of likes makes you a better person. If attention is the defining need, then we must be pretty lucky that all our other needs are satisfied. At least for some of us in the richer countries.

    Maybe rather than attention, it’s really about approval. In the past, attention and approval came from a small circle of friends or co-workers. Now we can get it world wide. So even if our close circle doesn’t approve, a thousand likes shows how wrong they are.

    I could argue that communication is the defining need. After all, everyone is texting, posting, emailing, and calling. Sometimes we even talk face to face to each other. Rather than a true need, it’s just something that’s easy to do and provides some small feel good factor.

  2. My response (just based on Shaun’s comment) is that line how you see your own blooper reel while social media shows you everyone’s highlight reel.

    Odd that in the early paragraphs the article conflates incoming and outgoing attention (i.e. it starts talking about people’s need for attention, but then flips to how facebook is selling their attention to advertisers who apparently need attention too 😀 – but of course attention is a big part of what brings people to social media in the first place)

    I’ve been blogging for over 15 years, I’m no stranger to seeking attention. I would say it’s not always about “belonging” as “being deemed worthy” – i.e. not by fitting in but by standing out in positive ways.

    That said I’m happily immune to a lot of that Instagram and micro-celebrity thing. It’s probably too easy for me to be very dismissive of it, and celebrity worship culture in general.

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