The Audience of Zero
to create, even if no one is watching

Author's Note: This was intended to be published in one of my older websites (Neocities or not I don't remember). It was me basically being self-aware that no one really sees my work, and how I was prioritizing the wrong things.

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People are always striving to get attention for whatever they may do. From a business standpoint I completely understand, but nowadays attention-seeking has been the main driver for the behaviour of many individuals for reasons I do not know.

I had a period where I was "seeking" for attention, though it may not have occurred to me at the time. I had made an Instagram account showcasing art I created, but it just turned into this toxic game of people following each other for the sole purpose of receiving a follow back to their account, and subsequently unfollowing each other; basically using social reciprocity to garner a following, albeit a very artificial one at that. What exactly are we gaining if the followers that we have aren't even following what we do?

This essentially ruined social platforms for me as a whole, since it was not about supporting fellow people or gaining inspiration, but it turned into this vain competition as to who gets the most amount of attention from people who have no attention span in the first place. Think about it: just how long does the average person look at a photo in Instagram as they scroll through their feed? I am willing to bet 2 seconds at the most. If your motives are wrong, then the payoff is so bad that any introductory class in economics (or even common sense) will tell you that it isn't worth it.

For example, I would take 6-7 hours creating an art piece and I'll get some likes. Sounds good, until I realize that the people who even bothered to look took only around 1-2 seconds at most and moved on. What is that, like a minute of people's time for 7 hours of my life? What kind of a trade-off is that if I were basing my success from attention alone? We are like buskers trying to scrape by with spare change from passersby. If we create work only for attention, then what are we really gaining?

Where are the days when people did things because they found fulfillment in what they did, finding joy and purpose in what they were creating and contributing? Some people are more concerned with how many people are looking at their work rather than the work itself. It is no longer the quality of the work that stands out to people, but how "popular" it is, whatever that even means.

I want to believe that the attention that a certain piece of work gets is proportional to the quality it has, but that is not always the case. There are countless cases where the work simply does not live up to the amount of popularity it gets. There are many videos on YouTube whose existence is the literal definition of the discrepancy between quality and popularity, it is entirely ludicrous.

It is because of this that I have long since given up on caring about gaining the attention of people. What's the point of garnering attention if the average human attention span is dwindling towards mere seconds? One may gain attention one moment, and then poof! It disappears, as if it never existed. Trying to gain attention is the attempt to grasp something that is as ungraspable as air; you will never gain a firm hold on the attention of people, as the moment you think that recognition has been achieved, you are immediately forgotten.

Social media often makes us susceptible to treat people like mere statistics, but we must understand that people have their own lives to live, and to constantly obsess about what others are looking at is simply not going to make progress in any sort of meaningful way towards our work.

It gives me great solace to recognize that people will forget. It is just the natural state which humans approach. People think that others will always remember them, but how exactly will they remember when they are unconscious, or sleeping? Not every moment of conscious thought will be filled about celebrities, or those with fame, so why should I seek for something which is just as dispensible as attention?

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