Attention, Attention! I want Attention.

Do We All Just Want to Be Noticed?

In this time in history we as individuals have the world at our fingertips. Before we’ve reached this momentous achievement, we used to believe that this achievement would provide an opportunity to not only open up communication to anyone anywhere in the world but also, and mainly, open up new and numerous avenues of information. But the success of the Internet, online apps and smartphones has evolved throughout the years into something unforeseen; an entity that promotes superficiality over reality.

Personally, I think it’s a supplementary condition of our consumer driven society that we’ve developed this insatiable desire to constantly post things. What does consumerism have to do with wanting to be noticed? Well, for starters, we’re bombarded by images every five seconds to purchase things, and usually things that convey messages of false promises of making you more attractive. Because you know, you are your own advertising agency. So what do we do? We buy the things that will make us more desirable and then we log onto Facebook, or Instagram and post things no one really cares about. But then you may get someone asking what you’re wearing, or how you got your hair like that, or what your “secret” is, and this perpetuates the cycle of consumerism. It perpetuates this cycle of wanting things, and it perpetuates this cycle of wanting to be noticed.

There’s a problem with my generation when it comes to social media. We want attention. We want people to be aware of who we are, and most of the time without us really trying. With people becoming “famous” because of their YouTube channels or Instagram feeds, we all would like for that to happen to us. I say that it’s the millennial generation that is struggling with this because of how the fame game has evolved. Let’s look at some pop culture history then, shall we?

Smile for the Camera

Remember way back when Paris Hilton wasn’t famous? Neither do I. But how she found her way into the limelight was because she was an heiress, but that title didn’t necessarily get her name circulating until she released a sex tape. That tape gave her a platform that was a catalyst for her to costar in a reality T.V. series. She was “famous” by association and then developed her fame by basically doing nothing. Like, Kim Kardashian. This was also around the time where American Idol was really taking off and shows like Survivor, and basically the entirety of the TLC channel was making headway. And within all of these different examples is one common denominator, reality (or rather, a skewed perception of reality). Any normal person can try their hand at singing, or a crazy competition, or have a show be all about the struggle over picking out a wedding dress. Things that don’t really matter, but are entertaining. You know, superficial. But then the fame bug evolved again, now utilizing the Internet as a platform, where YouTube started to become synonymous for people “getting noticed.” People could become a star by singing covers of songs (cough couch, Justin Bieber). And because this was happening to normal everyday people, normal everyday people wanted this to continue to happen. Then other platforms like Vine (RIP) and now Instagram, have evolved to provide its users with chances of notoriety.

Cloudy with a Chance of Fame

And herein lies the problem, that there’s a chance. We are facilitated by the average Joe’s of the world becoming famous that we get fueled by the likes and the follows and the “possibilities” of what that could mean. So, we post and we post often in the hopes that we’ll open Instagram or Twitter and see thousands of likes and follows, and when that doesn’t happen, we just post again. Hoping that this one will get more attention than the last.

Some may not want to become famous per say, but just desire some kind of notoriety. I know I’ve been hung up on wanting a ton of followers and likes, but I’m only starting to realize why and where that’s coming from. Supposedly a “like” actually makes you feel good, like, psychologically. It gives you a tiny dose of dopamine (a reward chemical), which creates a reward cycle. One like equals one reward and when that’s over we want more. That’s alarming. But I also think it has something to do with receiving attention. When we get likes and followers it’s not only validating what we post, but also kind of who we are. It’s confirming our reality, may it be a birthday post to a friend or a selfie after a haircut. If people are liking what we’re posting, we must be doing something right, right? It’s bizarre that this is where we’re at with social media and fame but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

What Do We Really Want?

But maybe with all of these connections and our ability to reach out to people from all over the world, we’re relying on this method to connect to people instead of actually connecting with people in real life? We seek attention from strangers because we’re not satisfied with the attention we do, or rather don’t get, in real life? Are we looking fame? Or do we just want to be noticed?

 

 

 

 

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