Question of the day: before social media, what did people do to get attention?
This question has been floating around Twitter this week. I caught a response from a Baltimore journalist who wrote:
Bright colors. A ritualistic dance. Vibrating their wings. Mating calls.
My own response was nowhere near as visually arresting.
Question: Before social media, what did people do to get attention?
Me: Cranky letters to the editor.
I liked this question and the subsequent replies because they made me think. It may seem naive to you but I tend to think people are on social media to communicate. To make contact. Sometimes to learn. I honestly hadn’t given much thought to the concept that people are on social media to get attention.
I know, I know. How could I be so…clueless?
Well, I don’t hang around in the places where a lot of that is going on and I don’t travel in the same circles as those who are desperate for social media attention. Instagram and TikTok are full of that if you are looking for it.
I’m not. I would go out of my way to avoid posts from people who dress up their pets to increase their own personal social media clout or turn their young children into a brand.
On the other hand, am I ignoring the ways that I - - and the people I interact with most - - use social media in ways that could very well be “looking for attention”?
- Here are my adorable grandchildren!
- We’re so proud of our new kitchen!
- Look how those idiots damaged our front lawn!
- Where can I find a perfect dress for the exclusive event I’ve been invited to?
- I’ve been promoted!
One poster added this comment to the photo:
If you know, you know.
Wait. People got up to sharpen their pencils to get attention? Not just because their pencil needed sharpening? Or because they couldn’t sit in the same spot for one more minute? Or because that cute boy was at the sharpener?
In light of recent conversations about teen behavior, I think it’s interesting that a significant chunk of responses involved shopping malls. They seem to figure prominently in many of the respondents’ recollections.
I highly recommend this thread. There’s a kind of childlike sweetness about it. Want to read the responses for yourself? It begins here.
I’ve been pondering one of the comments since I read it several days ago:
It’s so different because on social media you’re trying to get attention from strangers compared to then you wanted attention from people you know.
Do you think that’s true? Do you see that happening? If so, I’m wondering if there are long-term consequences to that kind of shift. Does it change how we treat the people we know? Does it change how we feel about ourselves?
Here’s one more before I go:
Before social media, what did people do to get attention?
I had a surrey with isinglass windows that rolled right down.
If you know, you know.