Do You Really Need Attention That Much?

Staring at my computer screen, trying to come up with another subtraction sum to add to the worksheet I’m making. A Whatsapp message flashes up on my phone which is never far from my reach, ‘Attack on Westminster, WTF?’ Instinctively I open up Twitter. It’s my go to for everything. A catch up with mates. A Kardashian update. A breaking news outlet. Even an instant attention fix. But it’s times like these, in aftermaths of events like these, that social media brings out the most extreme forms of attention seeking. It makes me beg the question, ‘how much attention do you really need?’

Don’t get me wrong. I use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all day err day as a way to drive attention to my blog and therefore me. I call for page views. I ask questions. I run polls. I discuss the ins and outs of my life as I love to engage with my friends, my readers and people who haven’t discovered me yet. When the attention dies down, a little bit of me does too. I think everyone who uses social media as a hobby or to drive their ambitions would agree. But one thing I’ll never get my head round, is the use of other people’s misery or distressing current events to gain attention.

As I scroll through my feed, I’m roused to see tweets declaring that Londoners will come together. I inwardly applaud the RTs of people much more articulate than I who insist we don’t further marginalise or blame groups of people. My heart is warmed by people reaching out and asking their internet friends if they are safe. Equally though, I’m horrified.

I’m horrified by people retweeting photos of the injured or the affected. I’m horrified to see people mentioning accounts that are sharing misinformation. I’m horrified by the scaremongering, by the rumours and by the blaming.

As Influencers with any amount of platform we all have a duty to be responsible with what we share. Messages of hope, concern and solidarity should be shared in times like these. They are a welcome solace to some. Can we however, all just stop, think and ask ourselves if our voice is adding anything helpful or hopeful at these times or whether we are just using it for attention?

I know the temptation is there. To get a tweet to go viral because our fingers are on the pulse with this one. I know it’s tempting to link to information (without checking sources) because it will drive people to your page. I know it’s tempting to offer your opinion in the hope that lots of other people will agree and you’ll be lavished with praise and attention. But this is not the time.

Do you really need attention so much that you are sharing photos of wounded people whose families may see it?
Do you really need attention so much that you are RTing accounts that are spreading indirect hate?
Do you really need attention so much that you are telling people to run and hide because there are rumours of more attacks?
Do you really need attention so much that you are telling people that you are ‘really close’ to where it’s all ‘kicking off’ and describing, insensitively, what you can see?

Yes we may be Influencers. We may be creators. However, we are not journalists. It is not our jobs or space to report information. It’s not our responsibility to share photos that some people would not want to see.

Why am I writing this? For attention? Of course. That’s what blogging and writing for an audience is about. We want people to read. To engage. To share and to agree. But can we all just be aware of what it is we’re seeking attention for.

In the coming days, the events of today will become an anecdote – if you’re lucky, or a painful trauma if you’re not. We’ll all have hashtagged #PrayforWestminster and Twitter will have treated us to an emoji that fits. But once we take down our Union Jack flag-covered profile pictures and stopped talking about it, can we make a conscious effort to seek attention in more positive ways?

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  1. Abi Street
    March 22, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    This is so so important! Especially today of all days, when something this horrific happens so close to home.

    Abi | abistreetx

  2. March 22, 2017 / 7:54 pm

    Very well written. It’s a strange world we live in where everyone with a smart phone feels it’s necessary they share information. Sometimes it’s also the news outlets’ fault as they ask for material and information from people in the area. But I agree it’s insensitive sharing photos of injured people or describing it in detail. I think we should first try and help if we can and then think about how we’d feel if it was our loved ones lying on the ground and being photographed.

    Maya |

  3. March 22, 2017 / 8:01 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I love that people are marking themselves self on social media and I have reached out to close family and friends that work in London to ask if they are safe. BUT when watching the news today all I could see was clips of people with their phones out taking videos of the ingured and the police cars and ambulances. I feel like sometimes, some of us, can loose a little bit of our humanity in times of terror and disruction.


  4. March 22, 2017 / 8:12 pm

    This post is so so accurate. This attack is actually the first I’ve seen on Twitter in which people are being asked to be responsible and not share photos or videos of the scenes. I think it’s incredible, and it just worries me about all the people on the scene who WOULD take the photos in the first place

    Steph –

  5. March 22, 2017 / 9:38 pm

    This really summed up a lot of thoughts I had while seeing reactions to what happened in Westminster unfold, then hearing people talk about it at work and at home. Sometimes we need to learn to be quiet and take the time to listen to what’s happening, to understand before we share and to be conscious of what and why we’re sharing it. I hate that suffering has become a spectacle, a live action movie, and that so many people are trying to put themselves at the centre of it. It’s not always about you.

    – Natalie

  6. March 23, 2017 / 12:13 pm

    Could not agree more! Well said! x

  7. March 23, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    Well said. I generally try and avoid social media after something like this happens because so many people try and make it about themselves, or use it to push some political agenda. It’s really not that hard to keep quiet and not use someone’s tragedy for your own personal gain.
    I sometimes feel sorry for celebrities and those in the public eye at times like this as well – they get criticised for sending a ‘hopes and prayers’ type message and criticised for not saying anything. I think we all need to learn to accept that silent does not equal uncaring or unaffected.

  8. Malin
    March 24, 2017 / 6:12 pm

    This pretty much sums up my thoughts on social media during critical events. Honestly, I do not understand it! Why tweet a picture of an injured person instead of helping? Why suddenly become a live journalist just because you are close? It just really pisses me off. Another thing that annoys me, are those attention seeking people who mark themselves as safe even though they are nowhere near the incident. And let’s not forget those people who were supposed to be in London and tell everyone everywhere that they were supposed to be there. London is big. The chances of someone being there at that exact time is so slim. Sometimes people just need to realize it is not about them!

  9. finja
    March 27, 2017 / 10:07 am

    Thanks for sharing your view on this…. I really cannot understand why the world needs to go through such a tragedy… 🙁
    xx finja |