Different or Attention Seeking Disorder (ASD)

A few years ago, I wrote a rather long article that got me into a bit of trouble. It was titled; the demons that haunt originality. I have since been trying to develop it into a book, I have titled “down Demon Avenue”. But this hasn’t been as easy as I thought with the myriad of other books waiting to be completed. God is in control. The purpose of that article was to treat the idea of originality that in my opinion many people only make an attempt at; but never really attain. This is a tragedy of the serious kind. It got me into trouble because I mentioned the names of specific individuals as examples to bring my point home. I shall now attempt to make a similar point under a cloud of all the ambiguity I can muster at the inimicalexpense of my innate need to say things exactly as I see it.



Because the idea of originality is too broad for the purpose of this article, I shall focus on the idea of difference (being different and making a difference) which as far as I can see, is an aspect of the originality discussion. Nature itself thrives on diversity. We see the manifestation of this in the many different varieties it has of each entity. There are many different species of apples as there are of oranges. A larger variety is the citrus family and the much larger fruit family—yet they form a unit that integrates with other units to make a larger unit. No aspect of nature is without this diversity and no where do they not unite in one way or another. Yet it is the unity of this diversity that makes nature what it is in a plug and socket manner. What kind of life will this be if all the fruits were the same and had the same properties? So that nature needs this heterogeneity that it will unite into one working unit with many different players. Any attempt to deprive it of this difference is error. Let’s put that in the bag for now.


With the forgone as a premise therefore, we must see why it is required by nature that every one of its constituents be different, unique and original no matter how apparently similar and nature indeed makes the so by default. To be different therefore, one only has to simply allow the different and original that one already is—we have seen this in performance theory as a necessary ingredient.  The challenge most people have starts with the attempt at being different. Often when a person decides of their own accord to be different, they are forced to think up ways in which they can appear different from everybody else. This is not very difficult to achieve as a simple thing as walking around without shoes in a society where wearing shoes is the norm can make one significantly different in the immediate environment. Yet when we look far enough, we will quickly learn that there are others who already walk around without shoes. At that point what seemed different begins to lose its authenticity and starts straying towards normal in a certain sense. Walking around without shoes can easily be replicated by literally everyone. It is a falsity then to think that is how one is different from others. It is a learnt and created difference. It is attention seeking that became necessary because one somehow learnt that you can gain attention by being different. When it wears out, one will have to think up other ways in which they can be different.


For this group that tries to be different, they are often not very conscious of the effect of their actions and its consequences. What is most important to them is to gain the attention that being different or being seen to have challenged the status quo brings. It is a need being met by any means necessary and this is not different from a person who decides to rob others so he might feed his children. A musician who decides to perform stark naked in front of an audience will gain some attention no doubt. Possibly even world-wide fame and some have done that. However, we will have been attracted by a naked body or eccentric behavior and not great music. So perhaps this individual is not a real musician—his authenticity as a musician is then challenged by his own need to be different. His attempt at being different is actually a retrograde of civilization as we know it. Man left the walk-around-naked zone thousands of years ago because we decided that wearing clothes and shoes was the better option as far as our need for continuous improvement goes. As a matter of fact, all those who have made a difference did it with their clothes on. There is nothing special then about the act itself as it can be replicated by anyone and therefore not that different in essence. That which is differentin essence cannot be replicated by another. Put that too in the bag.

Difference; when allowed to be what it is; brings humanity to a new level of progress its seeds rests within everyone. It is running the same one hundred meter sprint that many have ran for a millennia and bringing something new to it. Win it ahead of the elite, break the record and stand out. Be known as the only man who ran a sprint and actually slowed down in order to make room for a future breaking of your own record. A feat like this one can barely be achieved by simply showing up naked on the tracks. It is only with a certain capability (a unique combination of talent, skill, traits and interests) possessed by one person only. Of course the one who shows up naked will be remembered as the only one who showed up naked but that is as far as he will go. Should he break away from the pack and win the race by a significant margin, he would have made a real difference. However a person who has the capability to break records barely thinks about ways in which he can be different—he is already different.


My second concern is those who say that their life mission is to make a difference in the world. Fantastic! But they must by their occupation improve some aspect of our existence and be of benefit to many and not so much themselves. Benefit for the self is what most people do and hence we cannot claim difference when we do the same. It means going out there to do something phenomenal that inspires someone to do something too. Most importantly the conditions of others must change for the better because of something you did. So that beneficiaries can look at their situation at some point and say to themselves, I am different now because of something Mr. X did. Or perhaps an aspect of the world changed for the better because of something we have done. When we can make this happen, we can say that we have made a difference. It is for this reason that the expression change-maker can be equated to one who made a difference.


In conclusion, we should see that merely choosing to be different will not necessarily help us make a difference. To make a difference therefore, one has to just remain different. Simple as this is, it has eluded many. They therefore look outside of themselves for the solution to being different. This can only be described as a tragedy. The need to be different is ASD (Attention seeking disorder); it can be treated. Go make a difference with your already different self. #spidup


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About Markus Kennedy Katey

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