Thursday, September 29, 2011

Attention Seeking

Attention. We all want it and yet we all deny that need for it. Girls cry out for it with their clothes and their makeup and the hours they spend making themselves up in the morning, each of their carefully maneuvered move. Boys... While I'm not one myself, I'm guessing that their needs are similar but they project it differently. I'm guessing the reason why so many of them seem to act so stupid and cocky, particularly the ones who have not fully recovered from Eighth Grade Stupid Syndrome, is because of that very need.

I've been thinking about this topic for a couple of days but being let out for the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah (there's a lot of Jewish kids in my school district, hence why we have that excuse for no school) has given me more time to do so.

There are certain socially accepted rules on how to get attention. Girls aren't supposed to act out like boys do because it's weird; they are supposed to get attention in a variety of subtler ways. There's the wearing of however much makeup they can get away with wearing without looking like a slut. The same goes with wearing super-tight, super-revealing clothes (sky's the limit with this one, almost). Then there's always the I'm-going-to-seek-compliments-by-hating-on-myself (although it's hard to differentiate between someone who is truly hating on themselves and who is doing it to get attention). Of course the biggest rule of all is to never admit that you're trying to get attention because then that makes you look pathetic or conceited or whatever.

Being as I am not a boy myself, I can only speak from observation about them. It seems like the socially accepted ways for them to get attention by being loud, bad-ass and pretending not to give a shit. And, of course, like girls, I quite imagine that their casualness is quite forced and that they too think about every move they make.

I mean, don't get me wrong, attention seeking isn't always a bad thing as long as it's done tastefully. Feeling like wallpaper really sucks. A lot of people think that the kind of attention seeking shown by teenagers that I mentioned above proves that they have low self-esteem and all that. I won't deny that sometimes it really does. It seems that attention is something you do when you are high on confidence too (well except for compliment fishing. That's always done in moments of low self-esteem). Make-up can make you feel prettier and it can make you feel like you can approach someone.  Feeling like you can pull off super-tight, super-revealing clothes... That is definitely a liberating feeling, at least for me. I know that one of my friends thinks it looks desperate and that they're being pressured to conform to it but I don't think so. I mean... of course you're doing it for attention but it's almost as if you're doing it to increase that confidence even more. A compliment from someone undoubtedly does that.

Of course, when seeking attention, this attention has to be the right kind of attention. If people are going to laugh at you or look upon you with disgust then you are probably going to do your best to slink away and fade into the background.

For example, there is one unique boy who is infamous in our grade (an impressive feat, I might add, considering our grade has a little more than 460 kids in it). He is known for making comments that make other kids uncomfortable such as joking about his future take-over of the world and such. For English class, he even brought an ultrasound picture of himself instead of a current one.

People respond quite negatively to this of course and I am sure he has quite often received shocked and disgusted looks. Yet it seems quite obvious that he is doing it for shock value and... it works. No one really knows my name but his... Well, that's a different story.

I quite imagine this is his way of getting attention and I find it kind of interesting. I wonder if he is doing this because it is his way of getting the attention he needs or if it is his way of voicing his disdain at his peers or simply because he needs to believe that he can. Regardless, I find his nonconformity admirable no matter what his reasoning is behind it.

I suppose that I just find this topic fascinating, just as I find human behavior fascinating. No one really likes to live life governed by unwritten rules but we do anyway; the rules of seeking out attention are no exception to this.

What I'm trying to say is that everyone does it, attention seeking. We are social creatures and this is nothing to be ashamed of so long as it is done in moderation (because doing it too much and trying to make it too obvious does look a little pathetic and conceited). Attention seeking doesn't make you pathetic or conceited or full of low self-esteem but it makes you human.

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