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Tim Wilson: May I have your attention, please?


By Tim Wilson

Published: 3:12PM Thursday April 12, 2012

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

Has the internet made us less connected to one another, more indulgent of selfish pleasures, and more narcissistic? Oh, probably.

It has also shown us the undeniable power of distraction, and the meagreness of what suffices for attention-grabbing. What gets eyeballs? Um, dogs doing funny stuff. That gets eyeballs.

Anyone who has ever worked in the giant bordello otherwise known as telly knows that you stick a dog or a cat on telly, and ratings surge.

I'm sure there are people in glass towers as you read this, trying to shoehorn a pooch into some unsuspecting piece. Okay, doesn't always work. It is hard enough to muscle a mutt into, say,

a mass-killing, but a tricksy mutt , well....

We're talking here about the nature of spectacle. A canine being acrobatic works, or some ordinary exchange that has been upended.

Consider the traffic lights, the junction where civilisation dies. You're waiting, you have to be somewhere. HAVE to. Green. Come on. Come ON. You toot your horn.

Suddenly you're wishing you had never done that. Dammit, where is reverse?

Turns out that entertainment doesn't need a big budget after all. Turns out - as Tobe Hooper, director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre discovered - all you need is one image of malevolence.

A masked guy holding a weapon and advancing .

If you consider it, most of us have been either the coward in the car, or wished they had the venom of the madman on the motorbike.

It is sdoubtful that Hoopers Leatherface, the Texas Chainsaw-ist would evoke the same sympathy.

I have sympathy for our final specimen.

After a few drinks with friends, the sensible man chooses not to drive.

By some unpleasant chain of events, he finds himself being driven and to a destination not of his choosing.

By the police. He starts to express his anguish. The anguish that made him drink. Anguish at the shame of being alone this late at night. The anguish of being a curiosity, rather than a man.

And what's the appropriate crucible of this very human desire for self-expression?

Crazy, right? And yet mesmerising. Oh, and that video has attracted 7.5 million views, which is even more if you consider that most of those watching were using both of their eyes.

Put it another way, the way website recently summarised when it wrote the headline, Internet makes us smarter and dumber.

To read more Tim Wilson opinion  click here

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