I do know that there are people in the world who crave attention. They want to be in the spotlight, making sure that everyone is tending to them.
People use lots of different techniques to grab attention. Some become abject, the broken one who needs to be tended to, some become cute, some become the clown, some become an actor, always on stage. Others become authoritative, pronouncing their absolute truth with the surety of a God, while others become seductive, showing themselves as sensuous and worth the effort.
As for me, well, attention terrifies me. In my experience, whenever someone was oaying attention to me they were looking for a way to hurt and silence me, bullying me into compliance. Others wanted to put me on a pedestal or dissect me, casting me into a part in their own internal movie that would always lead me to discomfort and grief.
My solution was simple. I learned to get people to pay attention to what I said, to the product I was offering. Even then, I refused to pander to an audience to keep their attention, giving them what they would lap up, instead giving them the best I had and then letting them take or leave it. I have never tried to build an audience for this blog, for example, instead just doing the best I can.
I know that this choice means I have no basis to complain about the lack of attention I get from others. Attention is the most scarce and valuable commodity in a information economy so most people have very little to spare. In fact, they are usually in attention deficit with their mental energy spread too thin to do much others than habitual or rote responses, a situation that marketers really like. It’s much easier to manipulate people who have a very, very short attention span and an almost as short memory.
When I talk to someone, I know that they are going to talk about what is important to them for as long as I am willing to pay attention. They like the attention from me because they have learned that I am both smart and caring, really working to understand the lay of their land, the parameters of their world. I point out connections that even they miss, which makes them feel seen, understood and valued.
For me, though, trying to break through and have them pay attention to me, really listen, engage and understand, then offer insight, affirmation and support just usually seems more trouble than it is worth. That is just another futile goal that would waste my time, frustrate me, and make me feel sad when it fails.
I have very little interest or even ability to oversimplify my life so it pushes the buttons most people use to get attention in the world. I am not entertaining, not cute, and while witty, am not a clown. I know that my worldview is complex and nuanced, thoughtful and measured, know that most people just aren’t good at engaging it. They want me to be able to respond to simple solutions. When they offer one and I discuss how I have considered it and and found it limited, they chafe as if I am dismissing them.
I have learned to resist attention, affirming it in a
Does all this cerebral claptrap mean that I don’t want or crave attention? Of course it doesn’t. I would love to have dinner with a fascinated and charming person sitting across from me who hangs on my every word. I just don’t see that happening. I need attention and encouragement to get over my own sticky blocks, ones that set me up for failure.
For success, I need people to pay attention to me. My habit, though, built with the experience of years, is to duck attention as a dead end or even a prelude to danger. This is not something new, of course. I learned not to play for attention and not to trust attention when I did get it a very long time ago.
I do believe that I have valuable things to offer the community. I don’t believe that they will get the joke, embrace the gifts, value and honour what I share. I believe they are focused on their own issues and as long as I can help solve their problems they will like it, but if I raise problems that they don’t want to address or need help with my problems, well, they have limited attention.
I know that other people can’t imagine why I duck attention while they crave it. I am baffling to them and that is just one of the reasons.
I need attention. I don’t trust attention. I don’t want to have to shill to get attention which in the end will have little value.
Pay attention to me, please. I have been asking politely for decades, offering you attention first. But I know you have your own issues, your own limits, lots of demands on your attention, know that you have to heal and grow in your own time and in your own way.
So, if you can’t pay attention to me, it’s fine.