Look At Me, Look At Me!
February 07, 2014
Remember the lengths you'd go to to get your mom's attention?
When you were doing a cartwheel, gave the dog a faux-hawk or just
wanted to tear her away from her phone call? Most of us haven't
outgrown that need for attention or validation.
We see it everywhere. And while it's easy to point our finger at
social networks like Facebook or Twitter and the people who overshare, humblebrag
and not-so-humblebrag (c'mon, we've all done it), judgment aside,
we all have this need for validation and attention. We're human,
for better or worse.
And according to famed American psychologist Abraham Maslow,
all of us mere mortals share a hierarchy or ladder of basic human
needs. Since 1943, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
said that before we were able to pay attention to our health or
security, we needed to have our basic needs for food, water and
sleep met. And that once we felt that our basic biological and
safety needs were met, we would be free to seek friendship, love
and a sense of belonging. Makes sense. We're much happier and
easier to be around when we're safe, sound and satisfied, too (BBQ Ridgies anyone?).
When these human needs to be recognized and feel validated are
fulfilled, we feel a sense of belonging. And when we belong and
create our community, it protects us, just like it did from
physical harm in the earliest days and just like it does physically
and mentally today.
"Social connections like these not
only give us pleasure, they also influence our health. People who
have satisfying relationships have been shown to be happier, have
fewer health problems and live longer. In contrast, having few
social ties is associated with depression, cognitive decline and
Read more at Harvard's Womens
But aren't we missing the point if we put self-promotion and our
own need for attention ahead of connection? Is this the best path
toward being understood and loved, this sometimes incessant focus
on ourselves? Aren't we drowning out some of the quieter, more
personal appeals at getting to know each other, understanding each
other and being real when we're yelling Look At Me!?
After we've had our dinner and our eight hours of sleep and we
aren't in harm's way, maybe it's time to put down the megaphone and
listen. We're looking for Likes and Shares and all 332 friends
to nod collectively in agreement at what we say (because it feels
good), but deep down we all really just yearn to belong, to be
understood and loved. Wired or not, this is what we need to survive
So here's what we're advocating in
honor of Valentine's Day: a little less Look At Me! and a little
more Look At You! Because really attention is a gift and you know
what they say about gift giving. It's better to give than to
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