Attention as a currency has consumed several months of my 2022 in thought. I spent some time with someone new in Febuaray, and one of the things I tried to do was dial my attention up to 11/10. What if I strived to notice body language, what was left unsaid, and what foods were avoided? Was it difficult? Yes. But it created a deep relationship in an incredibly short period of time.

When someone pays attention to me, it feels incredible. I have no shame in admitting that, because as I’m about to lay out, it feels like the most basic human need.

I’m currently on a plane, and there is a child crying 4 rows ahead of me. Why does the child cry? Attention.

We pay to give our attention to celebrities, and they pay us back in snippets of their talent. (Another form of attention.)

Attention is stating: I see you, you exist.

There’s a line in my favouorute poem taht goes: Our existance is mirrored in the minds of others.

A form of horrible imprisonment is solitary confinement. To be forcbly removed from attention.

A certain power dynamic exists at work with attention. Your boss can force you (in exchange for money) to give them attention. I’ve experienced many times being trapped in a conversation with my boss, desperate to leave, but knowing my compensation is somewhat tied to giving them attention.

In a great office, this probably doesn’t happen as much, and with the rise of asynch communication, attention can be stored. (In a real office, only real-time attention counted.) I can write you a 30 page Word document, and it keeps its’ vaue for a few days or weeks. I’ve traded the attention of creating a Word document (or coding a line, or cooking a burger) for your money.

This also is why we don’t want those we love to give attention to others. (The base of jealousy.) We fear that they will start to give us less attention, or less focused attention. We won’t admit it, but without some internal work, most of us would LOVE to be the only person getting attention. (The Dark Side within.)

Another easy example - Why isn’t your company a fan of you moonlighting with 2-3 other companies? They want to dominate your attention. If you’re able to produce awesome products and support your team, of course you should work for 2+ companies, impact the world and be compensated for it!

I’m still working out my thoughts on attention improvement. I believe based on my experiences with it that it’s a skill that can be honed. I just don’t know the right path.

Right now (July 2022), I think it looks something like:

1) Body language book

2) Practice observing strangers

3) Word? Speech book? (Learn to listen for tonal changes)

4) (What is someone not saying? What’s the inverse of their statements?)

I feel like I’m missing some large areas here. Why is it worth the time? Just imagine you’re out for pizza with a special someone. They order for the table, and ask for Mushrooms and olives removed. You remember mentioning 4 months ago off-hand that you hate mushrooms.

How does that feel?

Congrats, you’ve been given the gift of attention.

If that didn’t prove any worth, let’s inverse it.

You’re out to eat with that special someone. You’ve been dating and eating together for 8 years, you watch shows together, and you have deep conversations.

The server comes, and your partner orders a pizza with mushrooms and extra olives.

Oof - No attention given. Time to scroll for a while to forget the pain.


Is pain preferred over solitary confinement? (paper cuts to avoid boredom?)

Attention < We want to be seen < We want to matter.

Example of polititions meeting people, “when i met him, it felt like I was the only person in the world for 5 minutes.”

Fractionalised attention from scrolling

super-people who are able to make 5000 people on social media feel special (is this possible? Indididual DM’s? Derek Sivers replies to each email, that certainly makes people feel attention.)

Is attention worth more when it’s from a celebrity/influencer? Based on watching interactions irl, I think so.