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The Attention Game

Three people retweeted my clever comment.  Eight people think the pictures of my kids playing in the snow are cute. Forty-eight people read my last blog post. Today I have four new Twitter followers, and three new Facebook friends. One of them is actually an old friend. When did we all get into the habit of wanting people to pay attention to us? When did we all start performing so consciously for one-another? Why do we all check our blog stats and Twitter followers and see how many people are paying attention to us? Is this the era of The New Narcissism?

On a good day, I like to think that my friends and colleagues and I are creating a marketplace of ideas, and collaboratively advancing our mutual understanding of this new medium that is reshaping every aspect of the human experience. But on most days, I wonder more: are we all toddlers again?  Hey, pay attention to *ME*!  Actually, we’re more like teenagers–continually refining our own sense of identity and our relationship to others. Here we all are performing, strutting our stuff for one another, trying to say the most clever/witty/profound thing.

Why do I check how many people read this? I guess it’s like a game. Each read is a point. I don’t have time to play Tetris or Bust-a-Move any more, but I can make time to play Blogger. How well did I do this time?

Categories: social computing
  1. Will Dover
    February 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    For me, I am not so interested in having other people know what is going on in my life as I am in knowing what’s going on in the lives of people I care about. Occasionally, good ideas come from this perusal, but more often than not, it is more about just old fashioned curiosity. Or is it more cyber-voyeurism?

  2. February 16, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I actually brought up yesterday in a discussion of games in class that Facebook in itself – not Facebook games – can be defined as a game. The interface encourages collecting friends and interacting with it and creating goals around that. I would tend to say that Facebook’s “goal”, if you accept the definition that games have to be goal-oriented, is successfully doing – pardon the pun – facework in an automated, articulated way.

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