What do you see when you’re not looking?
I was recently driving by a large group of high-school students who were milling about and what cut through the uniformity of the bravado in baggy jeans was a young couple, in the midst of the crowd, motionlessly embracing each other. There was absolutely nothing unique about them so why did they become the focal point? It may be reasonable to assume that my attention might have also as easily rested on two people engaging in a fist-fight. Or a solitary individual sitting alone just outside the hub of the group. Something different.
But I still wondered why that particular snapshot of life grabbed my attention which led me to wonder what other things draw me in.
What grabs your attention in the sea of competing images?
Or what has the power to pull your attention from the backdrop of the ordinary? A sudden noise, bright colour, shiny object, unexpected movement or something incongruous and obviously out-of-place?
And what is it that gets your adrenaline flowing and the nervous system ramped up to buzzing or even just something that tugs the emotions up closer to the surface?
Is it the unexpected eruption of raucous laughter? Seeing a police car behind you even when you’re driving within the speed limit. Or an accident on the side of the road. Is it the unabashed display of emotion at an airport arrival gate?
If we know that these unique interruptions in the monotone daily pattern draws our attention, is there a chance that we use this same technique to get attention from others?
Do we proclaim loudly that we absolutely don’t want any attention but then still send up brightly-coloured smoke signals to be noticed? Perhaps we stand out in the crowd with:
- the flash of over-achieving competence?
- the discordant noise of barely-adaptive dysfunction?
The bigger question is why do we want that attention?
To answer that question, we may need to sit with the following two questions:
Who makes you look?
What do you do to make others look?