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“I did it for the attention.”

from The Atlantic

The Great Fracturing of American Attention

Why resisting distraction is one of the foundational challenges of this moment

By Megan Garber

A coiled cable nestled inside the silhouette of an eye
Adam Maida / The Atlantic

Last month, as Delta Flight 1580 made its way from Utah to Oregon, Michael Demarre approached one of the plane’s emergency-exit doors. He removed the door’s plastic covering, a federal report of the events alleges, and tugged at the handle that would release its hatch. A nearby flight attendant, realizing what he was doing, stopped him. Fellow passengers spent the rest of the flight watching him to ensure that he remained in his seat. After the plane landed, investigators asked him the obvious question: Why? COVID vaccines, he told an agent. His goal, he said, had been to make enough of a scene that people would begin filming him. He’d wanted their screens to publicize his feelings.

I did it for the attention: As explanations go, it’s an American classic. The grim irony of Demarre’s gambit—his lawyer has not commented publicly on the incident—is that it paid off. He made headlines. He got the publicity he wanted. I’m giving him even more now, I know. But I mention him because his exploit serves as a useful corollary. Recent years have seen the rise of a new mini-genre of literature: works arguing that one of the many emergencies Americans are living through right now is a widespread crisis of attention. The books vary widely in focus and tone, but share, at their foundations, an essential line of argument: Attention, that atomic unit of democracy, will shape our fate.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on March 5, 2022 by Editor

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