Reclaiming the power of paying attention

We live in an age where we are very aware of the world and its offsets. Social media has become an outlet for not only entertainment news, but for more dense topics like politics or economics on a comprehensive level.

The  downside of this  newfound role is the increasingly apparent divide between the two types of media users; those who seek to be intellectually awake, and those who use media to distract and spread confusion, prioritizing personal gain over the betterment of our world. It’s imperative that we not let media distractions define our priorities and actions.

Because we let the media consume our minds, we’re blinded by of-the-moment topics like Cardi B and her 15-minute breakup with Offset. We get caught up in arbitrary drama instead of allocating attention to things that matter.

There are exceptions: those who take advantage of our distractibility and use it for good. Thank god for the acute awakening that certain popular artists are experiencing;  without our young, curious minds, a lot of movements wouldn’t be popularized or upgraded like they are today.

Entertainment is a virtual necessity for us today; it’s what keeps that smile on our faces. It’s also what covers up the sadness and fear we experience. So when we hear about the likes of  bombings in Mogadishu, Somalia or gas leaks in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s easy to get distracted, because it’s not happening to us. Media allows these events to feel distant, and we reflexively turn away from upsetting news that feels beyond our control. Important world issues only make it to Twitter’s trending page and stay there for  a day or two before mediocre entertainment news knocks it down again.

People should pay more attention to these tragedies in general. Without the thought, without the curiosity, these topics will be no more than a hashtag. It’s so simple. Taking the time to read information and answer seemingly “stupid” questions are the first steps to really getting involved. Additional steps could include taking the time to find good and trustworthy organizations to donate to, talking to local political leaders about what not only you but what they will do to help out.

We, as a people, are all vulnerable to  distractions, and thus responsible in part for the misuse of media.

But, who we should really look to and blame are our leaders. From throwing paper towels into crowds to tweeting the military transgender ban announcement, the Trump administration has gotten their hands quite bloody and are some of the main culprits in promoting chaos and promulgating distraction. More reliable entities like the United Nations can only focus on so much, and there’s a significant amount of prioritizing to be done. But when it comes to the time to choose who they save, they only save themselves.  We need to mindfully consume media and harness the power of our attention. When we reclaim our attention from those who only seek profit, we are capable of much more than we think