Sunday, 14 April 2013

Attention please

I've never been an attention-seeker. I'm quite happy to be invisible, out of the limelight, hidden away. I don't need other people to validate me or confirm my existence. In any social gathering, I'm content to be hovering somewhere on the sidelines while others gather a crowd of people around them.

I'm always intrigued by those who need a constant audience, the bigger the better, and whose every waking moment seems devoted to keeping themselves in the public eye. They'll wear the most outrageous clothes, tell the most appalling stories, divulge the most shocking habits, simply to keep other people watching. I really couldn't be more different.

It seems to me that courting attention is hazardous. I wouldn't mind all the praise and appreciation, but it would come with a side order of abuse and hostility that wouldn't be so pleasant. I find it hard enough to deal with abuse from one person; mass abuse from all and sundry would have me weeping in the bathroom.

Of course some attention-seeking is just a cry for help. The flamboyant, extrovert, loud-mouthed windbag who seems totally self-confident might secretly be chronically insecure and desperate for love and reassurance. Who can tell?

No, if you went to a big party I happened to be attending, you might never notice me at all. I'd be the shy, nondescript guy in the corner, possibly having an intense conversation with some equally shy, nondescript person, or possibly just nursing my drink and scrutinising the other guests. Far from seeking attention, I might be so unobtrusive that you'd leave two hours later without having even registered my existence. Which is just how I like it.

27 comments:

Z said...

I know a number of confident people who, I suspect, need attention and praise. I'm somewhere in the middle nowadays - I used to be very shy but now I talk quite a lot. But usually, the bigger the gathering, the more likely I am to listen rather than speak.

Nick said...

Z: The trouble with being a confident person is that people EXPECT you to be confident, even if you're suddenly feeling quite the opposite. So was there any particular thing that made you less shy?

Z said...

It was the realisation that I didn't matter in the least, no one was looking to see me make a fool of myself so it didn't matter whether I did or not. And that just doing the thing you dread is easier than worrying about it, because it usually turns out fine after all. Oh, and thinking less about myself and more about other people, most of whom are also less confident than they appear.

Secret Agent Woman said...

You know, the very act of writing a blog about yourself means that you seek attention. It's just a different way than being outgoing or self-revealing at a party.

Bijoux said...

I'm with Z...the bigger the audience, the more I'd rather fade into the background.

Nick said...

Z: That's fascinating. How every rational of you, working all that out and consciously acting on it! I still have to keep reminding myself that most people are paying me no attention at all and whatever mistakes I make probably go unnoticed.

Nick said...

Agent: I knew someone would say that sooner or later! Yes, blogging is attention-seeking, but only on a very small and manageable scale. I probably get fewer visitors than the number of guests at a large party!

Nick said...

Bijoux: Exactly. I prefer to have an intense chat with one or two people rather than trying to engage a whole crowd.

Grannymar said...

I used to hide in corners at large gatherings, then I realised that just because I was not a noisy peacock, did not mean that I was not a worthwhile person. Now I move about the groups and if not happy move on. I also discovered that most people like to talk about themselves... so by asking one question, all I have to do is listen.

Suburbia said...

I'm in the corner with you Nick - so to speak!

Nick said...

Grannymar: I'm not very good at circulating. I prefer to wait until I see someone who looks interesting and then suss them out.

Suburbia: You can join me in the corner any time. I'm sure we'd have plenty to talk about!

Rummuser said...

I am not a very welcome fellow in most modern parties because, I do not drink alcohol and prefer to watch the other dolts make asses of themselves. I notice exactly what you write about because I suspect that alcohol loosens inhibitions and the attention seeking starts and it can be comic. I therefore tend to go late so that I reach the venue closer to eating time and the fun is even more visible,

Nick said...

Ramana: Sometimes a surfeit of alcohol can loosen someone up and they become very entertaining company. More often they just become narcissistic bores I want to get away from.

e said...

I've been to two parties recently and no alcohol was served. Everyone had a good time and no-one made an ass of themselves. I spoke to several people and shared a table with others. It is refreshing to go on social outings and not encounter the behaviour you write of here.

Nick said...

e: I think a lot of social occasions would be much more enjoyable if there was no alcohol at all. When alcohol is freely available, there are always individuals who abuse it and become thoroughly obnoxious.

Wisewebwoman said...

Well I am a gregarious loner but I'm only gregarious when stimulated sufficiently which unfortunately does not happen often enough for my liking. I truly hate gossip and would much rather discuss ideas or personal development or books or movies or theatre. So failing all that I escape quickly and inobtrusively.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: That's what I look for as well - something a bit more intelligent than the usual media gossip and domestic trivia. Putting my mouth in gear while my brain is bored to tears is not my idea of fun.

bonsaimum said...

I think everyone knows someone like that. :)

Nick said...

Bonsaimum: I know. We are not alone! For every highly visible gasbag, there's another quiet observer lurking in the background....

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Oh, you'll always find me in the kitchen at parties.

Seriously, I'm one of those people. I don't actually like parties, much, if I'm honest. I prefer a gathering with a couple of good friends.

I like blogging, not so much for the attention seeking but because I feel so nondescript in real life that I don't expect people to pay me enough attention to actually listen to me. Blogging is a way of getting my thoughts 'out there' without being interrupted or having people walk off halfway!

Nick said...

Jay: I agree, a chat with a couple of good friends is usually more interesting and more profound.

That's true about blogging, that people will actually listen to what you're saying and make an intelligent response.

And you don't strike me as remotely nondescript....

Eryl said...

Too tired to think, but just came by to say hello.

Nick said...

Eryl: And hello to you! I suspect you'd be somewhere in between. Not tucked away in a corner and not holding forth - just confidently chattering to people.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

It's so sweet of you to say I don't seem nondescript. I just feel it, I don't know why... I'm always kind of surprised when people find me interesting!

Nick said...

Jay: Well, to mention just a few things - greyhounds, Johnny Depp, the Sleep Pillow, a splendid book collection, a mysterious tombstone. Far from nondescript!

Liz said...

No, I have you down as good conversationalist.

Nick said...

Liz: I can be a very good conversationalist if I warm to the other person and I warm to the subject. Then it's all systems go! But if I don't warm to someone, I tend to dry up and say the bare minimum.