Cafe Witness

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You're Not Worth My Time

It's widely believed that our attention spans are rapidly eroding. MTV, the Internet, multitasking or globalization may be to blame, but regardless of the source, everyone seems to think that nobody pays attention to anything anymore.

But why should we?

Online, people skim webpages for relevant information. When they find something they're passionate about, they'll devour endless amounts of related material across multiple media platforms. Otherwise, they zip through the bare basics -- enough to wrap their heads around what everything may mean -- and then they move on to something new.

The key word there is "passionate." Not everyone is passionate about everything. Some topics are more alluring than others, and some purveyors of information do a better job of hooking an audience than others.

The real problem? It's getting harder to make a living by being mediocre.

Gatekeepers Gone Wild

Long ago, the public was content to have their media handed down to them by OTHER PEOPLE who decided what information was worth their time. Today, the means of distribution (and production) have been disrupted to the extent that anyone can engage with any type of media at any time and in any format (give or take), which means the gatekeepers are dead.

And they're pissed.

The gatekeepers believe that some media and information is more important (or of a higher quality) than others, and they want to "save you" from wasting your time on the inferior and impractical. But modern audiences have realized that the critics, agents and hitmakers don't speak for everyone, primarily because they don't UNDERSTAND everyone -- and so we no longer trust anyone who attempts to tell us what we SHOULD be embracing.

Beyond that, there's the issue of sheer quantity. A new piece of media isn't competing against dozens of distractions anymore; it's competing with the sum total of all human knowledge and experience, most of which is available at the click of a button.

Given all of this, how can anyone expect that 21st Century digital boys and girls would voluntarily spend ANY time reading / watching / listening to something they personally consider to be uninteresting?

This Blog Post Is Already Too Long

Yes, I understand the elite's self-aggrandizing concern that allowing the public to educate and entertain itself is akin to letting them overdose on junk food, junk media and junk lifestyles. But that's a cynical defense: just because something is necessary, important or vital, that's no excuse for it to be achingly boring.

So next time you're tempted to lament that "no one pays attention" to you, buck up: people are obviously paying attention to *something* out there, and there's no reason that something can't be you.

Get interesting.

(And don't tell me fables like "reading is dead;" it isn't.)

Image by moriza.

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8 Comments:

  • WELL said Justin.

    I always tell people to write, video, record, create, ____ , whatever they are most passionate about. That passion will attract people.

    By Anonymous C.C. Chapman, at 7:49 AM  

  • Well done!
    And reading isn't dead I just read this blog, why, because it intrigued me.

    By Blogger Much To Do About Nothing, the Blog, at 7:59 AM  

  • Given the huge buzz around the Kindle, the Sony e-Reader, and filling in the gaps for those with neither, reading's clearly not dead.

    The question in my mind is whether with new ways to produce reading material, and an empowered generation of people due to mass availability of tools, will those people with a passion be more apt to create (whether for free or for sale) works for these new systems? Can we grow a generation of authors who may not have bothered before, and will the content be of the quality we expect?

    I'm working on a book myself, slowly, as I gather information. In truth, I would have done it anyway, new tools or not, but the internet has made finding information easier.

    By Blogger shadow, at 9:03 AM  

  • Justin,

    Great post. Def. 'worth my time.' I think that there certainly is more noise out there so it becomes very difficult to stand out. Now you're essentially competing against the entire world. The good news is that though the competition is that much bigger, so are the niches, which makes it possible to succeed by getting very specific.

    Thanks again for a great post.

    @ryancmiller

    By Anonymous Ryan Miller, at 8:34 AM  

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