How Precious Is Attention: A Writer Wednesday Post

I had already planned to offer thanks this week for you, my readers, and the gift of your attention. Today, an untoward experience gave me even deeper appreciation.

In anticipation of my forthcoming e-version of Glad To Be Human, well-meaning and helpful people have advised me to learn to use social media. No one’s writing can stand alone now, I’m told. Writers must create “platforms,” built tweet by tweet and blog by blog of comments logged, to lift our writing from the flat and populated ground, that we and our words may be more easily seen, discovered, and shared. Even if you have a publisher, as do I, writers are expected to become architects and marketers, or else cry in the wilderness.

So, to serve the words vouchsafed me, I have been dipping my toe into these public streams of consciousness ribboning through social cyberspace. Like our physical world, they flow with whimsy, creativity, outrage, persuasion, boredom, love, humor, and passion. Admittedly, from time to time, I do question the necessity of this daily bath.

This morning I opened my Twitter stream to find a sardonic headline that hit me in the solar plexus. I won’t share it–it’s not worth the electrons. Suffice it to say that it fulfilled its intention to shock. I felt alkaline in a world of acid. Peculiarly, it hurt my feelings.

Was it the end of the world? Of course not. (It was, however, the end of my following that hip, influential magazine.) And being offended is a risk we take when we move in society, virtual or otherwise.

But the intensity and physicality of my response gave me pause. People speak about the social fabric, but for me it’s flesh. It’s alive, and responds to being grabbed or caressed.

Attention is as precious as a body, and should be accorded the same respect. Like a body, we can usually choose where we place it, how we nourish it, whose energy it shares. Occasionally it gets caught in social weather.  Which makes the warming fireside of friendly regard all the more valued.

So I have decided to send my own counteracting tweet out today: Treat attention like a body tenderly. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tweets…

This week I say goodbye to The Art Garden, a very beloved fireside. I continue to be grateful for your gentle attention, which I endeavor to repay in kind. Please have a joyful, attentive Thanksgiving.

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