James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

95: Microdosing of Attention

My partner and I got back home from a party and I was feeling nostalgic. The party took place in the surrounding city where I grew up and where we met, so it would make sense that we spent the night at my parents house instead of trying to find a late train back to Chicago. I took my childhood car to meet friends I’ve known for years. Chain restaurants and big box stores lined the blurry streets as my 2006 Nissan Sentra with a missing bumper chugged over potholes. I was in my feelings which led to a 1am Facebook lurk, unfriending hundreds of people.

I don’t know why, but I found myself going through the motion of opening the list, seeing who wasn’t of value to my life, unfriending, and moving on.

Tap

Are you sure?

Confirm

Tap

Are you sure?

Confirm

My fingers got in a rhythm that danced a pace in my head, gliding along glass in a 110 BPM dance.

“You should go to bed,” C’ne said.

“Nah, lemme just finish this first.”

Bless her soul for understanding my obsessions.

I finished by 2:30am and didn’t think about it much more afterward. I had a feed that was more coherent, and full of people I gave a damn about seeing what they had to say.

Let’s bounce towards this morning. My usual cocktail of podcasts and eggs were filled the weekday morning air. Another Round’s Heben and Tracy were in conversation with Margaret Cho. The conversation steered towards owning our bodies and our stories, addressing our own conversation and attention towards what we choose.

“So remember a few days ago, when you deleted all those people…why did you do that?” The helix of radio conversation swirling around C’ne’s voice.

“Is it yourself trying to regain your narrative?”

That gave me pause.

I think back to when I had a Facebook and when it first was introduced. It couldn’t have come at a better time for a 17 year old boy that had zero self esteem and sought validation from the numbers of friends that grew on my sidebar. Great relationships have grown through these soft connections but as we grow up, so do the people that scroll past our eyes on the daily, even temporary. For every genuine interest in someone’s accomplishments or opinions, then comes someone who is no longer important in my life. A small slice of attention given to someone and something I’m no longer interested in. And the weird thing was, I had a mental pause to even admit that I was no longer interested.

Don’t get too big for your britches, James.

Quit showing your ass, James.

Don’t be bougie, James.

How dare you say and act on how you feel, James.

Going through a feed of “friends” and deleting connections may seem something so small in the passing, but to me it was a declaration to myself that who I give my eyeballs and mental space is important. Just like the tattoos and piercings I use to own my appearance, I own my attention.

And besides, my Facebook is now a useful place again.

James T. Green