Monday, 31 March 2014

Look At Me! - The Need for Attention

     Humans crave attention, whether we care to admit it or not. For some people, this manifests as the desire for fame and fortune, while for others it can be as simple as feeling as though someone is proud of you. But it’s there in all of us, that little selfish streak that wants people to notice you.

     Many people are introverts, who don’t like to be the centre of attention. But this does not mean they don’t desire some form of recognition, perhaps just a simple remark of a job well done. In some ways, it is not so much about attention, but more about reassurance. Reassurance that we have achieved something worthwhile, that we are doing something productive with our lives. Psychologically, this reassurance boosts our self-esteem, making us happier and more confident, and therefore able to continue doing whatever it is we are good at.

     Celebrity culture takes attention to extreme lengths. Many would argue that the work of people like doctors deserves more recognition than that of singers or actors, but we can all name far more people with careers in the latter areas. Unfortunately, our society has developed this unhealthy obsession with the lives of these people, which is very difficult to remedy. But, they are still worth some of our attention. Many celebrities are people who have worked hard at something they’re good at, to the point of earning recognition from thousands of others, particularly when what they do provides us with a form of entertainment and bring us pleasure. The important thing is that they are dedicated to their craft, and not just in it for the fame. This is certainly not true of all celebrities sadly, but hopefully is for some.

    This semi-selfish need for attention can extend into many aspects of our lives. It is a good thing in some ways, driving us to make our lives better and to find happiness. But even our seemingly selfless acts often have some hidden reward that benefits us. We all feel proud and good about ourselves when helping others, so does our own need to feel this way somehow corrupt the act? Or does it matter, as long as the person still receives the aid they need? Human motivations are complex and far-reaching, and often we may not want to admit our true reasons behind our actions.

     Attention is a difficult thing to measure and control. It’s all too easy to give someone recognition when they have done something that is of obvious merit or importance. But we should also learn to appreciate smaller acts, which are perhaps not ground-breaking or incredible, but still important nevertheless. Even just remembering to thank someone for a small act of kindness can make them feel good. With children especially, we should encourage them in whatever they enjoy or good at, to aid self-esteem, but not so much that they develop overly large egos. Competition can be a healthy motivator, especially for people like athletes, but should not be taken so seriously that they eclipse the other aspects of your life.

     For some, being the best is what’s important.  For others, just acknowledgement of a job well done is enough. Everyone is different and has different needs and desires. But ultimately, I think we can all agree, that it’s nice to be noticed every now and again.


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