Seth Godin On “Pique Blindness”

Seth Godin claims we should use permission to market to people and today he argued we become blind to those thing others use to pique our attention.

You can see the entire piece here. Pique Blindness

To whom should  we deny our attention?

You will have noticed that the level of urgency and hyperbole is much higher now than it was say 50 years ago. This has led to pique blindness and we tune out these interruptions. That can act to our disadvantage because we end up tuning out everything.

“One of the real dangers of pique blindness is that we’ll only end up seeing drama, breaking news and the crisis of the moment. The first thing we need to do is not bite the hook. Refuse to reward anyone or anything that uses pique to get your attention. Turn up the filters and walk away. The important stuff will get through even if we filter out some of the urgent.”

Refuse to reward anyone or anything that uses pique to get our attention

Attention is show many get paid. Internet clicks being the primary, eyeballs on the screen close behind. Advertising as we know it is less dramatic than the news. Once we recognize the need to be unpiqued and once we learn many seek our attention solely for their own game, we can live our lives in peace. Probably not in tranquility, but closer.

Who needs our attention to survive:

The media: It has always been so. Headlines deliver the stories. Few read the entire article. Most of the story is in the first paragraph or two. We have the attention span of a grasshopper when it comes to news. In the 1960 election for president, sound bites were often 30 seconds long. Today, none are even 30 words. Eventually the media must come to realize that if a 3-second sound bite is how they convey important positions, they are in trouble. Their audience is functionally illiterate at that point.

Polticians: The survivors in elections are able to attract attention and they do it with hyperbole and near truth. Their opponents are charlatans while they themselves are saints. They know how to fix things. They know how to keep costs down. Thye know how to implement in real time. They are diplomatic. They are leaders. None of that is true of course. Politians no longer govern, they merely get elected. If they could govern, how may government agencies would disappear. The departments have vast power over programs and politicians can no longer overcome that. I have noticed that over the past 20 years, the budget for the CDC, Center for Disease Control, has grown twice as fast as the federal government budget as a whole. Studying workplace injuries and othe social ills are not part of their original mandate but mission creep is a common bureaucratic problem. Notice NASA. When they grow, they defocus and become less capable of delivering.

Religious presenters Billy Graham and Martin Luther King were old school. A simple message, a loving message, and an honourable man. Most TV ministers and others like Al Sharpton are not made the same way. Many rely on conflict rather than love and charity. As Johnny Carson once commented about Reverend Ike, “The only denominations he understands are $20, $50, and $100.” They rely on attention.

Activists of all labels. Somewhere in the past, we lost the ability to argue our positions from reason and facts. Maybe the Viet Nam war and what followed started it. Maybe the civil rights movement earlier. In any case, attention is no longer based on reasons. It is based on shouting, prohibiting, disobedience, and disruption of the peace of others. They will argue they must use such tactics to get attention. Exactly. We are pique blind and their antics must escalate to get our attention. I wonder how far. If someone with a coherent and balanced argument appeared they might get attention because they would be nearly unique. Rather like a beggar with a sign that says, “Need Beer”

We can do better

We can do better if we up our game to demand common sense instead of nonsense. As Seth says, deny your attention to anyone using pique and be prepared to deal with arguments and details in more depth. The fact that pique works is on us. If we ignored it all, it would go away together with its presenters. We must become users of facts and argument first. The others will follow.

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