Like me... or, if not, at least follow me. I need that love!
PUBLISHED: 15:41 01 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:41 01 July 2017
If you asked people what they desire most, the usual answers would come back: health, wealth, happiness, success, the gift of invisibility.
Not many would give you the revealingly-honest answer: attention.
But for every person who “keeps himself to himself”, there are plenty more who long to be noticed.
Andy Warhol was ahead of his time when he talked about people’s “15 minutes of fame”. He saw something coming, but not the internet and social media.
I certainly doubt he saw this coming...
In Minnesota this week, Pedro Ruiz was shot dead by his girlfriend Monalisa Perez as he held a book to his chest while their three-year-old son and 30 onlookers watched.
The pair thought the book would stop the bullet. But there’s a reason why bullet-proof vests are not made from classic novels, though a hardback War and Peace might have a chance.
Mr Ruiz’s aunt said they did it to “increase their social media following”.
It’s a nugget of social commentary that tells us so much about the “look at me” world in which we live.
At the cost of death and a probable long jail sentence, the misguided Minnesotans attracted all the attention that they craved and more. Their YouTube views went through the ceiling.
We could take the moral high ground, but isn’t what they did just an extreme example of what so many of us do each day?
We wake in the morning and check Facebook and Twitter to see if we have any new likes, comments or retweets. Then we post: “Morning everybody! It’s Weetabix for breakfast today” or “Been to the loo three times already #vindaloo lol”.
We want people to like us, follow us, affirm us, laugh with us, laugh at us, cry with us, share our joy or just notice us.
I’ve heard all the excuses: that Twitter is a great place to “network and build business contacts”; that Facebook is a wonderful way to stay in touch with family and friends.
Yes, but for many people, they’re primarily places to get attention.
People spend endless hours thinking of oh-so-witty ways to tweet about Donald Trump or Theresa May - then count the likes and retweets to bask in the reflected glory and ponder on how clever they are.
It’s rather like a much-multiplied version of the scene from Blackadder the Third in Mrs Miggins’ Paris pie shop, where poets, writers and assorted fops exchange badinage to impress each other.
They were simply longing to be noticed and admired.
And that’s what society is like today. We measure ourselves and others by the number of Twitter followers, retweets and YouTube views.
I’m guilty as charged. When I change my Facebook profile pic, I’m doing it largely for attention (see my latest one, above). And I feel a frisson of excitement each time someone new follows me on Twitter.
So many people’s Facebook pages contain little more than a stream of selfies - all with the head slightly turned and lips pouting, of course.
Like me! Look at me! Tell me I’m beautiful!
It’s a shame that so many of us are so insecure that we have to get affirmation in this way.