Sep 272008

In response to my comment on Kelly’s  blog post he asked:

“Michael, do you have a sense of under what conditions attention does not pull money along? You mentioned infants and terrorists. Don’t infants eventually get money from their parents, and wouldn’t terrorists get money if there was an easy way to pay them?”

I replied

Kevin, in reply to your question about when money does not follow attention: when money is not especially wanted or sought; when there is no suitable channel by which to convey money; when the person getting attention — JS Bach, say, or a suicide bomber — is dead.

In general, attention is often desired for its own sake; if you go to a karaoke bar with friends and start singing very entertainingly, you may get attention and applause, very gratifyingly, but not usually money.  In any circle of friends or colleagues, a few may get a lot of attention, but this does not generally translate into money, though non-monetary favors of various sorts would be common.

As new forms of interpersonal connection on the Internet and the like  (texting and Twitter, e.g.) proliferate, I think more and more of those we pay attention to will be hard to distinguish from friends, and handing over money to where our attention goes may seem increasingly odd under normal circumstances.


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