What is this obsession with my attention?
Being together in the same place, existing simultaneously, is enjoyable. Plenty of time may be spent focusing our attention on each other. This shows mutual respect and promotes closer bonding between us. I enjoy personal interaction with others, sharing ideas and discussing concepts. The occasional request for my attention is well within social norms and expectations, especially in relation to concerns requiring action on my part.
The impatient need for my attention on an object of your attention is different than mutually beneficial connection. This demand for my attention is typically immediate. Presumably the attention is required immediately because the phenomenon I’m obligated to witness has a time limit, deadline or expiration of some kind. Thus, my attention cannot wait until a time of my choosing, because then I would be too late to participate in this temporary occurence.
I have yet to determine how my attention can affect an outcome so heavily if I was not given enough notice to prepare for my participation in this circumstance. It is made out as if the occurrence may not even occur without my attention being successfully drawn to it. Somehow my assignment of value to this thing will achieve something for the people involved, although I suspect it’s almost entirely an achievement of gaining approval or validation from external sources.
The rabid enthusiasm expressed by others asks me to assign the same value that they do to that which they have drawn my attention to. Should I choose to withold judgment or value assignment I am almost immediately branded a “wet blanket” or “party pooper”, clearly detracting from the moment. Sometimes their insistence is overwhelmingly demanding. If the moment were so momentous, then how could my measly opinion make that big of a difference to the outcome?
More importantly, how does ruining the current moment to make room for a possibility of another moment do any of us good? I emphatically state that it does not in any way benefit any of us. Instead, it shows with startling clarity the lack of respect that this person has for the experience at hand, judging it inferior to an unknown possibility. It disregards the current experience entirely. It also attempts to override the social pact that looks for agreement on focus of shared experiences. It tells the person whose attention is needed that they have incorrectly prioritized or that the person demanding the attention is somehow more capable of setting priorities or driving action in the social dynamic. Humorously, this constant or rapid change in priorities indicates more of an issue prioritizing than good skills with it.
Worse, these things needing attention are often supposedly humorous, interesting or noteworthy. They may be that, but the world lacks no amount of things worth note. Asking others to disregard one thing for another is more about an emotional state needing personal support for a wandering mind or restless body than it is about the new thing being so drastically important compared to the first. This behavior is immature and basically shows us that the person losing focus is unable or unwilling to complete tasks or achieve goals, in favor of following feelings about random stimuli.
Part of the issue with chasing feelings about random stimuli is it is an indication of dissatisfaction with normal life, and a heightened need to focus only on pleasing stimuli, simultaneously avoiding any challenges or differences of opinion. This insistent need to remain in a self-created world of endless happiness unmarred by difficulty results in an inability to meet or overcome basic challenges, robbing the participant of the vital skill of meeting challenges and feeling achievement in overcoming them.
Without this sense of empowerment through accomplishment the subject is left seeking external sources of superficial satisfaction to fill the unmet need of achievement. This superficial satisfaction provides no lasting relief, so now others must be included to validate that substitute for genuine experience. When others do not assign value to the superficial choice, it chips away at the confidence the person has placed in an indequate solution to their needs. It shows the immense value they have placed on something that cannot live up to their expectations, and that they have misplaced their hope rather than engage in meaningful or fulfilling activities.
This also highlights how these people have pinned their own self-worth and identities on external occurrences or items, causing massive disillusionment when they eventually recognize that personally aligning with something does not inject value into ourselves or our deeds.
Bored? Avoiding conflict? Uncomfortable or undeducated concerning the topic? Have something of interest on your mind? Excited about something?
Change the subject mindfully (without demanding).
It’s not just about a short attention span. It’s about what’s important and what’s extraneous, what’s real and what’s perceived… it’s about how we see ourselves and others and the world around us. It’s about being here now, and having the maturity to discern what deserves our attention and what needs no further support at this time. It’s about recognizing that living in a community has everything to do with a complex and varied system of prioritization that should support our relationships, our shared goals, and show mutual respect.