I read something today that stunned me as if I had been hit between the eyes with a wet towel.
There is something about yourself that you don’t know. Something that you will deny even exists until it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s the only reason you get up in the morning, the only reason you suffer the shitty boss, the blood, the sweat and the tears. This is because you want people to know how good, attractive, generous, funny, wild and clever you really are. “Fear or revere me, but please think I’m special.” We share an addiction. We’re approval junkies. We’re all in it for the slap on the back and the gold watch. Look at the clever boy with the badge, polishing his trophy. Shine on, you crazy diamond. Because we’re just monkeys wrapped in suits, begging for the approval of others.
~ Revolver (2005)
I read this on a blog comment. Apparently, this is an excerpt from a movie called Revolver, but I have no idea how accurate it is.
Yet, whether the words came from the movie or not, the idea they communicate is accurate. We are approval junkies. But approval is not our primary drive. Our primary drive is seeking attention.
All day yesterday, Twitter kept ringing with the Shore Temple Vandalism. Incidentally, this isn’t about the Shore Temple, per se. It is about vandals, and their urge to vandalize.
I wondered at the motivation of those who did what they did. I wondered at their belligerence, at their chest- beating bravado. I wondered at their “This was made by my great- grand fathers, who are you to question me. I will do what I like. Shut up.” kind of brash responses on their FB page. Did they think they had done something admirable/ wonderful? Then I realized. They wanted attention. Like that of a spoiled brat, this was their method.
There are two ways in which I can get your attention. I can do something good, create something beautiful and you will notice me. Or I can do something evil, destroy something beautiful. Of the two, the latter is easier.
To do the former, I would not only need talent but also discipline, focus and perseverance. Things of beauty, in order to give us joy forever, aren’t created in a day. They aren’t created by chance, or by a sporadic, half- hearted effort. They demand your very life- blood. Which is why true creators- those of original thought and unrepeated passion- have never been approval driven. They have no energy to spare for attention seeking. Their passion is the furnace into which they feed all they have of themselves. All their all the time, energy, effort and attention is only for the thing in them that drives them to impossible limits- and beyond.
I can take the middle ground and keep trying to be ‘a cut above’ in your eyes. I will keep trying to shine; I will keep trying to win- and hold- your attention. I will truly be an approval junkie… for there will be no limit to my hustling you for your attention. The attention I gain from you in this way will be a pale, watery stew of the real thing. But if I am middle- of- the- ground kind of person, it will be all I will have the stomach for.
I can also make you pay attention by destroying something beautiful. It is much easier than the first option and it beats the middle- ground hollow in quality and quality of the attention gained.
Apart from gaining your undivided attention, the strategy to destroy also helps me create a stronghold on you. My ability to destroy gains power when you love the thing I want to destroy. The more you love it, the greater is my power. The more senseless it appears to you the more it makes sense to me. The more you revere it, more will I want to desecrate it. You will beg me to let it go, you will cry and beseech. You will think nothing of debasing yourself before me, if only I would spare the thing you love. You will be at my mercy. You, who wouldn’t lift your eyes to look at me, will be compelled to look at me in all my repulsive ugliness. And that is my victory.
Never mind the moral implications of the strategy. As far as effectiveness is concerned- the greatest attention of the greatest number- the ploy is a wild success. Hooligans have held the other half- the snotty upper echelon- on ransom. They had nothing to do with their time, but the sensible, aware and educated world did. This strata of society, that the hooligans would never be permitted to enter the homes of even after vigorously wiping their feet on the floor mat, was compelled to stop whatever they were doing and rush to put out the fire. If I were orchestrating the show, I’d have been mighty pleased with myself.
It wouldn’t do you any good if you question me about the day after tomorrow.
“Day after tomorrow? What the hell is that?” I’ will ask you, drunk on my own nuisance value, having experienced it for the first time. You didn’t know it, but you’ve just created a nuisance value junkie (NVJ). Like the creator of Frankenstein, you will rue the day you allowed it.
We hear you NVJ… or was it PMK? Whateva..!