Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Support Attention Seeking

If you want money, you can look for a job. If you want to be fit, you can work out at the gym. But for some reason, if you want attention, you're not supposed to try to obtain it.  No one asks you to pretend that you enjoy bagging groceries after school because it's socially acceptable to do it just for the money.  So if attention is what you want, why is it not socially acceptable to try to get it the same way that you try to get anything else?

I am an attention-seeker.  I absolutely love attention, and I support other people's attention-seeking.  It really bothers me when people "write off" behaviors as attention-seeking, as if attention is not an acceptable reason for doing something. People can do things for any reason that they want.  I was once disappointed about not getting into a fiction-writing class that involved a lot of individual meetings with the professor. When I said how I felt, someone asked me it was really the class I cared about, or if it was all the individual attention that I wanted. Of course I wanted the attention!  This person acted as though the attention was less of a reason to join the class, but for me it was more of a reason. There is nothing wrong with doing something to get attention.

I understand that some people do things that are wrong to get attention, such as lying or deceiving other people.  But those actions are wrong because deceiving is inherently wrong - it's not wrong because of the reason that it was done. An action that doesn't hurt anybody doesn't become wrong because someone does it for attention.

Finally, we can't write off other people's behavior, like "She's just saying that to get attention," so that we don't have to respond to someone's distress.  It just gets us off the hook of having to care about other people's problems. Maybe it's our own lack of response and attention that has made the person resort to whatever they are doing.  The worst is when we write-off suicide attempts as attention-seeking. First of all, almost everyone who attempts suicide is seriously considering it.  Secondly, even if we somehow know for a fact that someone attempted suicide for attention, there is still a major problem: if a person has to resort to attempting suicide in order for people to pay attention to them, then something is very wrong with their situation, with the fact that no one will listen or be there for them unless they do something extreme.

The bottom line is that attention-seeking does not make something less legitimate, valid, or real, especially when it comes to serious things. Attention-seeking does not write off or lessen or invalidate what a person is doing.  Attention is something that a lot of us want, and we shouldn't have to pretend that we don't.

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