When I was in school I would see some of my classmates clambering to get the teacher’s eyes on her. It was such a rush if you were told to read or get a special mention for just saying something smart. In college just flickering your hair around a lot or being loud would get you popular enough. Contrastingly, I even saw people who were so comfortable they didn’t care if people didn’t even know their names till the third year of being in the same class. I was on the other end of the spectrum. Too shy and mostly thought popularity is too much effort and the bargain wouldn’t get me anything interesting. Entering a room and turning heads meant to me that I was wearing something too blingy or I had to pull my hoodie on.
Guess what? Not all of us want to be the hero. Some despise the spotlight because it’s just plain embarrassing. The idea that everyone’s important and a part of a bigger act makes it unnecessary to be the lead role. Everyone’s a protagonist in their own life, why should I or anyone want to be the centre of attention? Why should everyone be looking at this one person entering? Subconsciously projecting movies, novels and stories on to real life; making superiority a prized possession. (Personally, I liked Ron as a character over Harry)
The price we pay for wanting superiority is a constant seeking of approval of the majority. Not seeking approval is hard in a world where every brand endorses attention along with their products. The famous Asian Paints advertisement “Wah Sunil Babu naya Ghar”; when someone gets a new coat of paint, they not only get new looking walls, they grab attention. Some ads even feed on people’s insecurity which wasn’t even there before they advertised it. I mean really, asking the men: do you really want a thousand unknown women running behind your masked odour; than not need to mask anything in the first place? People actually love themselves, whatever the marketing agency tells them just messes with that. Really get down to what they’re selling you? It’s mostly something we can live without, using as a bait our worst insecurity and using that to mask their products.
The social media—the new billboards of marketing, wants you to want people’s attention. I recently noticed that Instagram, being the most popular, has some sly algorithm going on. It waits for you to want people to notice your post and then somehow ghosts it, so you pay them to get attention. How are they existing in the first place, if not for our accounts? There are a lot of videos discouraging people from using social media, that says it’s a way of getting the dopamine levels to go haywire. Attention seeking is a disorder and companies like Facebook and Instagram are supplements to this damaging condition.
Attention literally means ‘the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.’
In the light of this, attention is not a negative word. Getting noticed for the right reasons is definitely normal. We are social beings and we want to feel a part of the herd; it’s in our natural instinct to want to be accepted. Doing things solely for the purpose of grabbing eyeballs is something else.
The world doesn’t revolve around us and we are like any other creatures—that’s why I love ants. How they live, their community and attitude to life. If someone needs an ego check please introduce them to ants. Toiling like the world rests on their contribution, even if that contribution isn’t being talked about. They can be squished between our toes and we wouldn’t even realise; they don’t seem to have the time to worry about being noticed. The neck joint of a common American field ant can withstand pressures up to 5,000 times greater than its own body weight. I don’t see the need to glorify our lives.
Being accepted turned to seeking approval and then crossed the line and became ‘wanting limelight’. All this because leadership was being sold to people like hotcakes. “Don’t be a sheep, following the herd”, somehow meant each of us need to lead the rest of us. Everyone was being encouraged to run the race of leaders. Everyone with experience wants to start their own business, with shortage of experienced employees to work. Everyone wanted to be the trendsetter, sadly with paid followers. Too many individual opinions which needs to outshine the other’s. This is not feeling like you’re a part of something bigger. This dived us, individually leading us into the whirlpools of our own washbasins- everyone going nowhere.
The problem is not that you shouldn’t want to be a leader, you should lead the way if you know it. The problem is, not realising, that contributing in anyway is as important as leading. The geese flying in a V-formation don’t let just one goose lead the entire time and tire out, while the one’s flying at the back of the line honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. This team work leads to 71% greater flying range. If we all work to contribute than to just lead; if we all cheer each other than wanting to always be praised and if we all appreciate being accepted than just seek out attention, we could work like ants without stopping to look who is looking.