Social Media and What My Kids Taught Me About Attention

stand_out_in_a_crowdOr should I say “lack of attention?”

I’ve done a whole lot of thinking about social media lately.

Most all of the thoughts that crossed my mind surrounded whether it was effective to the average person, such as myself, and if it was really worth the time and effort, or was it a road I shouldn’t be taking, leading me off the beaten path of writing that next novel. Last thing I want to do is find myself lost, out in the middle of nowhere, wondering how I got there, losing precious time.

Spending time on Twitter, I quickly realized it can be a lot of noise. Most people on there are spewing and “re-spewing” information. It’s not that I question the quality of the content they’re spewing (most of the time), but rather the effectiveness of the social media platform.

The main question here is “how do you get people to listen to what you have to say?” How do you get people to care? Sure, you can spend time interacting with people and developing new “Twitter Cohorts”, if you will, but in the end they are on there for the same reasons as you — to push a product — to develop a brand!

I relate social media to my persistence when it comes to griping at the kids to pick up their messes. Over time it loses its effectiveness — with each whiny bleat my noise falls on deaf ears. So how do you get your kids to listen for the umpteenth time? How do you get them to care?

One day, not too long ago, I realized the only way to get attention in an A.D.D. world was to either shock people out of their drone state or to do something completely off-the-wall. People are dying to be entertained or, better yet, shaken from their dismally led lives. Unfortunately, it’s the same thing over and over again with most people.

I’m a bit odd… especially having 8 kids in today’s world, and sometimes I actually announce brief family meetings where I can update everyone on what’s going on — even what we’re having for dinner. Imagine 8 kids asking me, one at a time, over the course of an hour, what we’re having for dinner. But, weird still… we actually sit down most nights “together” and have dinner. We pass the food around the table and talk. Weird I know. Very strange. No tablets, no internet, no texting. We have had many debates at the table and, I admit, naturally reach for the closest device and go to Wikipedia, wrinkling out any unknown facts and quelling mini arguments.

But I hold these meetings and they are absolutely draining. I feel bad for the teachers. How do they get the attention of the kids these days?

So not too long ago, at one of these meetings, the kids were wound up and it was difficult to get their undivided attention. I decided to stand on my head. All the kids stopped talking and stared at me. I held it the best I could. Within just a few seconds you could hear a pin drop. I then proceeded to conduct the meeting standing on my head. The funny part about it, they all listened.

I had to do something different… I had to stand out… granted it was on my head, but nevertheless, it worked.

One other time I began telling a story in a soft whisper. It was kinda weird and different but the kids listened.

This brings me back to social media and how everyone is trying to get the attention of others and let’s just say, as I can see it, it’s not working too well for most people. A large number of people are trying to become well-recognized and even famous by growing their twitter and facebook followers. I picture a room full of people vying for that attention, demanding we all stop and care all of a sudden.

Too many chiefs and not enough indians is another term I could toss out here.

We are being told by marketers how to go on social media and act, and EVERYONE, my friends, is taking their advice and doing the exact same thing, yet what we want to do is stand out from the noise. Isn’t it?

So how does one “stand out” and actually be different in a way that people will listen and even care? Is it even possible? What do you think?

If you liked this post you should check out What My Children Taught Me About Persistence

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