People See Through You

The attention economy has been an effective meme. We recognize audible sounds that refer to ideas that match a particular perceived pattern and we categorize the phenomena. We encounter combinations of words, we imitate by using those words in a sentence, we repeat phrases in conversation, and they become part of our vocabulary.

For 50 years, I have been lied to.

My parents lied to me. My friends lied to me. My teachers lied to me. My church pastors lied to me. The media lied to me. My government lied to me. Corporations lied to me constantly.

They told me to be quiet and listen. They told me I was their audience. By their silence, they told me I didn’t matter. Those who have a voice are the ones that matter.

So, I imitated them. Lies became part of my vocabulary. So I learned to lie to everyone else. I put up the same façade of perfection. I became the silent audience for all of their media messages.

It is a culture. We are infected. It is a contagion, a virus.

Marketing, persuasion, manipulation, propaganda, control.

I barely said anything in high school. I had learned in elementary school that if you speak up, you are ridiculed and humiliated. So, I disappeared. I became invisible.

I became well acquainted with silence. It has been a constant ringing in my ears.

“You don’t matter.”

When you are alone, the silence becomes deafening.

When you are invisible, people see through you.

The phrase has layers of meaning.

It could mean that they have studied your behaviour, gazed into your face, looked into your eyes, and peered into your soul. Your intentions have been laid bare. They understand your internal motives. They see through you.

It could mean that you are invisible, irrelevant, unremarkable, unworthy of attention. They see through you like you don’t exist.

Economy is about scarcity. It is a manipulation of the market to create variations in supply and demand. Desire is a commodity. Want is a social good. Poverty is the necessary evil to strike fear in the hearts of consumers and motivate them to buy. If food is not scarce, it is not possible to put a price on it. If water is freely available, why would you need to bottle it? If attention is always paid, why would anyone pay for it?

Pay Attention

If we all pay attention, attention would not be such a scarce commodity.

But, then, what is worthy of our attention? Is it capital?

Is it our common humanity?

If we had all the time in the world, we wouldn’t feel so stressed, hurried, anxious, fearful, and mortal. We could take the time to pay attention.

If we broke the silence, if we participated in conversation, if we collaborated, we could feel like we are being heard, seen, and known.

We desire transcendence. We desire to be seen, to be heard, and to be known. That is why we needed to believe in a God who always sees, hears, and knows.

To break the spell of the attention economy, we must pay attention to what really matters.

Remove the façade. Get out from behind the screen. Look into each other’s eyes.

Hear. See. Know.

All we have is this moment.

Designer, writer, educator, social architect, founder, Builders Collective, Leading with Design.

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