Open Page

Attention and applause are addictive

The fear of applause dying down drives people to go to unbelievable extents. A constant effort to get continuous unfettered attention, never-ending moments under the sun.

The little girl won’t eat, dress, sleep, study or even go to play if asked to, doing exactly opposite to what is suggested. Get her the favourite red dress, and her patriotism changes to blue. Try to surprise her with her favourite chocolate, and her typical response would be, “but I wanted an ice-cream”. She won’t smile when everyone does, but would surely start off a temper tantrum, throwing everyone off track. When the wobbling, confused family regains balance, she will showcase her cutest smile.

As young, confused parents as we were once, many won’t know what to do with such odd behaviour of a child.

If the birth of a child means a small earthquake to the parents, the arrival of a sibling was like a tsunami to my daughter, her dictatorial regime giving way to a warlord, our new son. We never expected it to happen to her, who, we believed, had the best of everything. “Why should she be unhappy,” I asked myself.

But what I failed to fathom was the deep-seated worry inside her growing, confused mind, trying to find ways to get attention. The fear of loss of attention and applause was so intense that she was ready to forgo her favourite chocolate or the red dress.

Fake news

Next emerged the storyline. “My friend fell into a ditch on the school playground and could not get out for a long time.” This worried us about the lack of responsibility among schoolteachers. After a pause, we were relieved to hear the rest of the story. “And then another five of my friends fell one by one; we left them and came home.” It’s the child’s way of catching attention. On social media, we call it fake news.

The sibling rivalry passes off peacefully for most. As they grow up, they learn the “play, fight, cry, complain, punishment, hug” routine, playing in an endless loop.

But a study has shown that as people turn 60, the death rate suddenly jumps up in industrialised societies. This is because after retirement, many revisit the fear of lack of attention, instead of living stress-free lives. A relentlessly tweeting President or a soft-spoken doctor somewhere, everyone craves for attention. Deep in the obscure corner of the human mind, unknown to us, lurks the secret fear of the dying applause.

Statutory warning: “Attention is addictive; may cause serious withdrawal effects.”

tinynair@gmail.com

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 9:56:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/attention-and-applause-are-addictive/article33887378.ece

Next Story