Be Quiet and Pay Attention!

I think it was last week that I got this thought about getting attention compared to paying attention. At first, I thought it was original. Hey, did I really just come up with that idea? The see-saw nature of it appealed to me. I write this blog partly to get attention. But I notice that when I pay attention and focus on what I’m writing, it’s more fun.

I quickly gave up the thought that I came up with the idea. I think the context was a little discouragement about the really low traffic to my blog. Now, I’m not just saying that to get more attention—although it does sound like that. And I really appreciate the visits I get from readers!

I searched the web for more about the get attention vs pay attention thing because I was pretty sure I didn’t come up with it but just forgot where I first heard about it.

The funny thing is that what first came to mind was the Men in Black (MIB) scene in which Agent J’s elementary schoolteacher Mrs. Edelson is displayed on the big monitor at MIB headquarters. It turns out she’s actually an alien and she’s crabbing at the class, “…Be quiet and pay attention!” I’ve searched for the YouTube clip but all I found were two: one deleted scene in which her rage at the class went up like a bomb and was way overdone and the other which was blurry and the audio was terrible.

Anyway, you get the idea. Of course, I also found the TED Talk by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt about paying attention vs getting attention, “How craving attention makes you less creative.”

I think his point is spot on about social media being a big part of the push for many of us to crave attention. I used to have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn but dropped them years ago because I got almost no traffic. I’m still on YouTube, which has low traffic but which I have fun with because I like making funny little videos. I also made teaching videos back when I was a consulting psychiatrist at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

I get hardly any traffic on my current blog (which I’ve had for about 3 years) and I get a little frustrated with that. However, I like to write so I’m probably going to hang on to it for a while. I had a previous blog that lasted for about 7 years. It also never got more than a modest number of followers.

When I’m paying attention to what I’m writing about, it may not get any views but I get more satisfaction from writing them. I do my best writing when I’m just having fun doing it. I get a kick out of writing. But then I wonder why I’m not getting any views.

I think the see-saw aspect of paying vs getting attention is normal. So, I should pay more attention to Mrs. Edelson.

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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