Attention Please…

My wonderful and very liberal daughter, Megan gave me a subscription to the Sunday New York Times for Christmas. She thinks my thinking is too far right or for sure too far right of hers. I am a grateful donee. It does take a few hours of my Sunday morning to get through but it keeps me off the streets. 

The Sunday Review revealed a particularly interesting article by Charlie Warzel. Spoiler alert: I am going to plagiarize many of the thoughts presented. They were outstanding. 

The gist of the article was an interview with a guy in Berkley who was somewhat of a  savant about the internet, websites and reality TV to name a few. In the early nineties he focused on appropriately, ”Attention”. It seems it is currency of sorts that we distribute without giving much thought to its worth. 

A zillion times a day we are bombarded by requests for our attention. It could be the boob tube, newspapers, the internet or just someone with something to say. Each one wants you to take notice, to be of interest to you or on the other hand to have meaning themselves. 

I don’t know about you but I am getting numb to a lot of things no matter how much the volume has been pumped up. A coup in Myanmar, floods in India, snowy weather, the impeachment trial and worst of all daily COVID stats have the ability to have me pay no attention at all. 

Now if they have something to say that might enhance your life or get to your soul you might perk up and want to hear more. You break out of that semi conscious state and in a sense they have caught you. Tell me more. It’s like the guy who will enable me to hit my driver thirty yards further. Where do I sign.?

Whole industries have grown up about buyer psychology and behavior. The type of music or the color of the background all are perfectly tailored to get the most out of you. The truly scary part is the the good old algorithms and AI are going to be able to design a pitch geared to you and you alone. 

Our writer surmises that the more attention you get the more powerful you are. If your posts are seen by millions that is cash in the pocket of the writer or votes for that particular politician or sales on HSN. If you have thousands or millions on your Twitter account that is some pretty heady stuff. You are king or queen of your empire. People genuflect at your every word. It really happens.

Now let’s get back to that whole ides of you giving attention. Or better yet trying to feel like you mattered because no one was reaching out to you. You were the unwashed masses and the Donald tailored his pitch directly to you. You mattered. You counted. And no one had ever really done that to you before. 

Is it possible to be selective about who you give your attention to? Yes, but I think it would take practice, patience and curiosity rather than blind acceptance.

Get back to that idea of it being a currency that I can choose to spend or not. Look at yourself as a panoply of responses that you want to dole out carefully. Be selective. Even be demanding. Not in a snob like way but to put some barriers on who you let in. 

 I can get your attention in a number of ways. I can yell at you.I can whisper.  I can slam doors or bang gavels. I can create an aroma or a bad odor. I can push eroticism. Sex always sells. I can preach a gospel. Maybe not so much. I can offer you riches. Get rich quick. I can tug on your heart strings for pity and maybe a shekel or two. 

We have to work hard at paying attention. We want to be wowed and captivated otherwise we shunt it aside or merely daydream. We have labeled it a disease as in ADHD. No doubt some suffer deeply from it but for others it is just an excuse for goofing off or screwing up. There is reality out there that I would rather not deal with. 

It seems to me that type of approach might actually make our lives better. For the past couple of nights I have avoided any contact with TV. I sit in my corner chair and just look things up that interest me. I read an article or book. I go back to reread an article I may have glossed over in the Sunday Times. A little classical or smooth jazz sets the scene. Hmm. That feels pretty damn good. 

I am here at an early hour. I am humbly trying to pour out drivel so the I might get your attention. It is a wonderful sport. You help me think things through and see many sides. I feel some sort of duty to be witty or pithy. It’s all in there. I just have to make sure I get it out right. 

I have to catch your eye. I have to be worthy. In a real sense I am not trying to get your attention. I am really just paying attention to you. Nice concept.

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

The average person has about 48.6 thoughts per minute, according to the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California. That adds up to a total of 70,000 thoughts per day.

Finding Nemo. Our attention span has gotten shorter. From 12 seconds in 2000 to less than 8 seconds today. The attention span for a goldfish is 9 seconds. How the hell do they know that?

Psychologists found that the human mind is actually wired for this state of continuous distraction. In a study conducted with 2,250 adults, they concluded that we spend around 47 percent of every waking hour “mind wandering.”

FOMO (fear of missing out), FOBO (fear of being offline), and nomophobia (fear of being out of mobile phone contact)—all forms of anxiety that border on obsession or compulsion. People are constantly checking their laptops, tablets, and phones because they worry about receiving new information after everyone else, responding too slowly to a text or an e-mail, or being late to comment on or like a social media post.

One thought on “Attention Please…

  1. Another thought with my tongue out of cheek: everyone should have an awareness of China’s objectives, and the aforementioned publication is the only one I know of that is paying serious attention.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s