“Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it.” — Matthew Crawford
Those of us who create content crave attention. That’s why we slog away at a keyboard, day in and day out, transforming words into ideas that we hope will get attention—any attention, somewhere, anywhere. It’s an uphill battle. There are millions of us chained to our laptops. We harbor a compulsive, almost obsessive hope that the next few words we type will resonate with the magnitude of Got Milk, or Been There, Done That. Then, all the attention in the world will be ours, and we will live happily ever after.
But it just doesn’t work that way. The attention span isn’t there, as much as we want it to be. And when you do get attention, it’s momentary. The last book I bought had 60 pages. That’s right, 60 pages! High Maintenance, a very popular series on Vimeo that was just picked up by HBO, clocks in at about seven minutes a pop. USA Today, the great rag of infographics and four-paragraph news stories just manages to hold a reader’s eye. Buzzfeed defines List Journalism as: 21 Reasons to Shoot Yourself Now. No list, no attention.
If I write a 2,000-word piece, the work is considered to be on the scale of War and Peace, and we know how many people have read War and Peace. In fact, I’ll wager good money that I am probably starting to lose you right about now.
So come back! I have something important to tell you. Here it is:
The world is being bombarded with so much content that it’s all noise. Nobody pays attention to noise unless it hurts. And then they go deaf.
So, let’s pack it all in and get our Series 6 license and go to Wall Street. But before we do, let me share something with you. We’ve figured out a way to make content stand out as meaningful information above the ever-growing expanse of worthless noise around us. How? This is how:
AN ENTERPRISE PROGRAMMER’S TIME ALLOCATION
Also, we get to express opinions and ideas. But most of all, we get people to Lighten the Fuck Up, which is probably the best thing we can do for them because they live in a stressed out world of deafening noise.
Give people a cartoon, crack a joke, and they feel better. And you know what? When they feel better, if the cartoon is funny enough, they pass it on to others. There is a fine line between noise and impact, and our cartoons always fall on the side of impact. Again, we get attention.
Do you want people to pay attention to you? Want people to notice your opinions and ideas? Well, do a cartoon, for crying out loud. The worst case is that everybody will laugh at you. And when they’re laughing, they’re paying attention.