Attention; one of the most powerful gifts you can offer someone. When we care about a person, we give them our attention as the main way of showing it. Attention when doled out can make someone experience deep emotions whether in a great way or not. Attention when handled carelessly can inspire someone to believe misplaced intentions or that we care less than we do. Paying attention is a way of transferring power to the person we are paying attention to, and that power is, well, more powerful than we can even fathom.
As a society we strive to categorize and be categorized. Through our labels we determine our social circles, our place in the community, and certainly our own self-worth. Every label we either bestow upon ourselves or are given comes with a set amount of societal power. Through our profesion we receive a certain amount of power societally predetermined, as a woman I may receive less power than if I were male, and don’t even get my started on the power determined by our skin color. In a perfect world we wouldn’t be prejudged, or categorized, before someone knows us well but it appears we are all either too busy or wired in such a way that it happens despite our best intentions. So every day we choose to give power to other people through our attention to them and that power shift can either benefit us or harm us. How much time have I spent worrying about someone’s impression of me; more power to them. How much time have I spent about how people will view me; more power relinquished. How much time have I spent paying attention to empty celebrities, politicians, or people I will never ever interact with in any positive manner? Way too much.
So how do we change the way we offer up power to people who do not matter? How can we stop being sucked in by those that mostly do harm? In this politically charged America, it seems we need to dust off the civility but where? So from now on, I want to be sparser with my attention. I want to give it fully every day to those that mean the most; family, friends, my school community. I will strive to remove my share of given power to people who spew negativity, to people who only thrive when there is misery to be discussed, to those who do not mean well. We may not be able to change society and the uneven power held by people, but we can change the share we control. Attention is an incredible gift; give it to those that matter.