Do you enjoy being the center of attention? Is it important that your work is recognized?

I think those are two separate things. Years ago, when I was in a traveling theatre troupe, I wanted our production to be appreciated; that is, I did want the audience to be engaged…spellbound even…during the performance. And sure…I wanted them to pay attention to me when I was on stage - and to my fellow actors while they were on stage. But after the performance, I really didn’t want to interact with the audience at all. I loathed afterparties or meet-and-greets. The fawning, praise, false sense of intimacy…I found it viscerally repulsive. And I think this speaks to a very clear difference between having one’s efforts appreciated in context, and becoming “the center of attention” is a social situation. Those are two very different experiences, and they’ve provided a repeating contrast throughout my life. For example, when I have taught classes, I really enjoy becoming a facilitator of discussion, drawing people into it, exciting new conceptions or angles on a given topic, and synthesizing meaningful conclusions from group input - I really love doing that. But again, after class, when students approach me to offer their excitement or appreciation around my teaching style (rather that the topic itself), I try to be gracious but I am actually really, really uncomfortable.

Recently, I entered an essay contest. I haven’t done that in nearly thirty years, though this habit was part of my attempt to “become a writer” in my twenties. :-) In any case, the same dynamic is in play with writing efforts as well: I’d really like to be heard - I want folks to read what I write - but I don’t particularly enjoy a lot of attention after-the-fact. As the months have dragged on since I submitted my essay last November (some six months ago now), I find myself a little disgruntled that I haven’t heard any status on the contest. Is it because I wanted to win? Not particularly, no…it’s actually because I want my ideas to be heard, to be discussed, to influence discourse around a topic I care about. And that can’t happen if my essay is sitting in a closed office in someone’s read-me pile, instead of shared on my website, on FB, here on Quora, via etc. Which is why most of my books and essays are downloadable for free - here again, it’s nice to make money off of books sales, which to a small degree reflects some recognition of and attention to my work, but if people buy my books and don’t read them, that would be pretty pointless, right? So again it’s more about engagement and synthesis in the noosphere. That’s what really excites and sustains me.

Obviously the same phenomenon occurs on Quora. Although I can’t be sure that all of the “views” are actual full-length reads of my posts, it’s the “views” rather than the “likes” that I pay most attention to over time. More than that, when people engage me on Quora by posting comments or questions on my posts, I’m thrilled. I really enjoy immersing myself in a back-and-forth on complex topics. But if that turns into a love fest of mutual praise…well, that’s always nice but it doesn’t facilitate synthesis. It’s often just “preaching to the choir” as it were (again…this can feel nice or affirming…but it isn’t what motivates me to write).

This was a bit of a stream-of-consciousness data-dump…but hopefully I’ve made a useful distinction here.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: