Modern Hunters

If you’ve read yesterday’s post, you now know that my morning rituals include a short walk to get a cup of coffee. I do this just to maintain some sort of a schedule scaffold, in this almost 3 weeks long de-facto lockdown that we’re experiencing in Valencia.

One of the ways to the coffee shop goes through some sort of a central plaza, in which, at any given time of the day, something seems to happen.

There is the daily beggar action that I already mentioned in yesterday’s post, but every once in a while, there is also some sort of leaflet distribution, or some petition signing activity. Every couple of months there is also a bus in which you can donate blood, if you want.

But the most frequent activity seems to be the one in which other people want to give you something, or they want you to give them something.

The most interesting are the young guys offering you communist newspapers for free. I guess nobody would buy them, anyway, so they just want to reach people by giving them for free. I never saw the same people distributing those newspapers. They seem to change often, and they are mostly young guys or girls, all sharing a mix of curiosity, decisiveness and confusion. They stay in the middle of the path, facing people front, looking for eye contact and saying very convinced: “Periodicos comunistas!”.

And then there are the Red Cross volunteers, trying to convince you to donate something. They are more or less the same, or at least they don’t change as often as the communist newspaper distributors. They are women, speaking gently, sitting on the side of the path, and trying to make eye contact in a less obvious, more oblique way.

Petition signers have a more developed setup. Most of the time they come with a few portable tables, on which they have a small desktop arrangements, with papers, pens and whatnot. They’re split in teams of two: some are sitting at the tables, some in front of the tables, and you’d better not go through the middle, because, like a fish in a river, you’d be forced to land in their net.

Although they seem to be doing very different things, these people are all the same.

They’re all modern hunters.

They’re not necessarily hunting for money, or signatures, or donations, as their primary activity may lure you into thinking.

They’re hunting for your attention. And they’re not the only ones.

As a matter of fact, they are the humblest ones, those at the bottom of the attention hunting food chain. At the top of this chain are corporations worth dozens of millions. Like Facebook, Twitter, Apple or similar.

Attention is the most important commodity this planet has now. It’s worth more than oil, gold, silver or the stock market. Because attention is reality’s most basic building block. Reality cannot exist without it. That’s something so obvious, that we’re barely even thinking about it. But it’s fundamental, if you really stop for a while, and, pun intended, pay a little bit of attention.

It may look like everything happens only when we’re paying attention, but the reality is that everything happens because we’re paying attention. Think about this for a while.

I know you’re busy and you have a lot on your mind. But please, try to understand who’s getting your attention today. Put aside some time and really think about where your attention goes. Because that’s where your reality goes too.

The game may have changed in form, but, fundamentally, it’s the same: there are hunters out there, looking for prey. They’re not into food anymore, we solved that. They’re not into pillaging and robbing (most of the time), because we kinda keep this in balance now.

But they’re out for the most valuable thing in the world, the thing that makes reality exist.

And, in order to avoid being preyed upon, all you have to do is to learn how to pay attention.

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