Do you ever get the sense that someone has stopped listening to you, but you don’t even care because you need to get whatever you want to say out of your system? Have you ever sent someone approximately 48 text messages in the middle of the night, even though you knew that person was sleeping, because you were afraid you would forget what you wanted to say in the morning? No? Okay, well I have.
Yesterday, Amber Naslund, director of community for Radian6, wrote a post about seeking digital attention and getting used to being ignored.
We can understand (almost) if we’re ignored when we’re quiet. But if we’re ignored when we’re not, it somehow immediately means that what we’ve said or done must not matter. That it’s valueless, or the recipient doesn’t care much, or that we’re so far down the priority totem pole that we might as well just quit bothering.
Social networking tools give us more ways to speak. If we engage with these tools, we’re more often talking and less often quiet. The more we talk, the less likely we will be ignored, as Amber says.
But are we really being ignored when no one responds? Ignoring someone requires effort, and I what happens online is more passive than active. More often than not, the people you think are “ignoring” you are just distracted or not paying attention.
I say, who cares if no one is paying attention? As long as you feel that what you communicate represents yourself and your ideals, you have every right to communicate what you want to communicate.
Amber writes that we should prepare ourselves for “The moment when someone – the right someone – breaks their silence, comes out of the shadows, asks us for more, asks us what we stand for, and shows us that they’ve actually been paying very close attention.”
Should it matter if anyone ever does? Let’s imagine the worst-case scenario: no one ever responds to you.
Sometimes I NEED to feel like people are paying attention to me and to express myself regardless, even though I know that no one is paying attention to me. Social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter make me feel like I can share, and sometimes simply sharing, without the promise of response, is the most important thing.
Why do you think most writers write? Most writers write because they NEED to write, because they absolutely must express themselves, not because they are trying to charm a certain audience. Sure, every writer hopes his or her work will be read, but that’s not why most writers write.
The ability to externalize ideas is why most creative people communicate and share, even if no one is listening. In this video, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey discusses how drawing his ideas on paper helps him better identify with and scrutinize them. The Internet is the ultimate brainstorming tool! Even if no one is listening, sharing your ideas via Facebook, Twitter, etc. is a way to create idea-space for yourself.
Why do you think I blog? I obviously don’t write to attract millions of hits (I’d need access to the latest celebrity sex-tapes). Getting something out of my head and into the Internet “ether” can be very freeing. It doesn’t matter to me if anyone responds or not – what matters is that I transmit the idea through text or image, where I can see it.
(Photo by Fantasyfan)