Why Mass Attention Sucks

by Craig McBreen · 31 comments · Creativity, Social media

Craig-McBreen-Why-mass-attention-sucksI know everything about celebrities.


I’m online more than the average monkey; catch an occasional Kimmel, Letterman or Ferguson; and my wife dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the land of Chelsea Lately – A place where B-Listers and media whores are burnt at the stake. Plus comedians have a knack for podcasts, so I listen.

That my friends, is my pop culture window. I know about Honey Boo Boo, Lindsay’s next court date, and that The Situation can make his pecs dance in unison.

Heaven help me.

And that’s where this mindless verbal diarrhea marches right back to our social media bubble.

Let’s start with a quote from this post
“Mass attention is almost unattainable and it’s not clear that you want it.”
– Seth Godin

I love that shiny pearl, because Mass Attention is never a good reason for anything, ever. In fact, just the thought gives me a splitting headache.

The celebrities above will have their 15 minutes and then, off into the cosmos. Let’s see where Kim or Kourtney or that Gangnam Style guy land in a few years.

Pop fame is fleeting, and social web fame feels so confined. Does anyone in my family know about Chris or Guy or Leo? Um, no. Like you and I, they do know everything about Mr. Sheen, but what’s old Charlie done to make you a better person? What have you learned from him?


Fleeting fame and bubble fame.


Kinda macro vs. micro. But two worlds where popularity drives ambition.

So, is it a matter of choosing your poison or taking another route?

And yes, I’m talking about YOU and your plans.

When you sit down to write, to record, where is that spark? Are you thinking of someone on the other end and what you can do for them? And do you realize how much your community matters?

Do you think of work as a craft? Maybe even a reward?

I’d say popular artists that endure do this rather well.

Visualize someone who needs instruction, motivation, or desperately wants to start anew. Heck, maybe they just want to laugh. To me, this is how you build something of value.

Help. Entertain. Teach. Inspire.

It doesn’t have to be profound, and you don’t have to change lives (although you might).

Stop for a second and forget about generating tons of traffic.

Building a quality list of people you can actually help is better in every way.

Many hate the term “tribe,” but I think it symbolizes a better model that’s a win-win.


1. Catering to the masses stifles creativity*. Cater to a smaller group and you can unleash the creative monster inside. *I’ll never have this problem.

2. You stay true to yourself. Meaning you don’t lose the inspiration that brought you here in the first place.

3. There’s more meaning to your message and your business model. If you stop tripping over yourself trying to game the system, you stay true to your core.

And now is the best time ever to choose yourself and find “that” group … people you can truly help.

Think of the comedians mentioned above. Some formerly undiscovered masters of the craft now sell out shows. They’ve embraced the social web/podcast model where tribes rule.

They’ve bypassed the gatekeepers and have a system that: rewards creativity, brings in cold, hard cash, and entertains “their” group. The added benefit? They help people like me – I’m entertained and I learn from listening. Their reward? It’s the work.

“How do I become internet famous?”

This question parrots our empty pop culture ethos. With hard work and a crap-ton of luck it might just work for you, BUT isn’t the plan I outlined above easier? It comes more naturally, rewards those who want what you offer, and is about You being Y-O-U.

Now it’s your turn to embrace this fragmented, but beautiful new model.

It is time to ignite a fire within another, and within yourself.

Be the spark and you just might attract those golden citizens who truly love what you do.

So find your people and realize that tribes trump fame and mass appeal is flawed in so many ways.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaarina Dillabough February 18, 2013 at 8:45 am

I strive to be the best me I can be. Interesting image, that spark…I say that, in my work, I fan the flame that already burns within. And of course, you’ve got a certain song by the Doors now stuck in my head.

Quality over quantity – I quite agree – in all things in life. Cheers! Kaarina
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Ralph February 18, 2013 at 10:36 am
Kaarina Dillabough February 18, 2013 at 11:16 am

Oh yes!
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Kaarina Dillabough February 18, 2013 at 11:17 am

Oh yes! A Doors fan too:)
Kaarina Dillabough recently posted..Olivia’s Story: “May I Be Excused, My Brain is Full”My Profile


Craig McBreen February 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I didn’t know they were Canadian ;)


Craig McBreen February 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Hey Kaarina,

I’m now humming along :) I guess I had “fire” on the brain ;)

Quality over quantity – in all things in life. Yes, Ma’am! Cheers to that!


Kaarina Dillabough February 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm

This is definitely for you then :)
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Craig McBreen February 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Why thank you :)


Ralph February 18, 2013 at 10:55 am


I suppose it really depends on if you are into blogging as a business.

I am quite sure that’s not what you are getting at. I agree with your perspective because I blog to grow my knowledge, share ideas and learn from personal experience (hence my byline).

I have read quite a few blog posts about ROI, hippie attitudes about the kumbaya attitude as an excuse for not making a sustainable business out of blogging and traffic being the only way to build a sustainable internet business. It all makes sense if that’s what you want as your sole source of income (but why?).

You know, I have never seen blogging or social media, in any form, as a mainstay for a business but more as a business development tool. If that’s the case, your approach to me is highly sustainable. Build lasting relationships that over time can generate opportunity. Everyone does it differently but I suppose the key is that focusing on mass attention doesn’t get you much other than mass attention and maybe some shallow, empty pop culture appeal. I know, that makes me sound like one of those guys that wishes he was “the thang” who just isn’t.

What I like most about the few blogs I regularly read is that they make me think differently, their writers are engaged in their communities and they share stuff that is valuable to me.

I continue to strive to do the same with my blog simply as an adjunct to my career.

Cheers Craig. Have a great President’s Day!
Ralph recently posted..QOTW 2013: Week 8: I’m as busy as you. Who’s got time to listen to your story?My Profile


Craig McBreen February 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Hey Ralph,

I just see the same language that promises golden unicorns, rainbows and a bucket of gold. I’m all for killing it in business and making a good living, but blogging is just like anything else and yes, it is a platform and a great way to help grow a business.

I also like the entertainment comparison, because sometimes it feels that way to me. An insular little club where some cool kids are fawned over (the stars). I’ve done some of my own fawning, but usually towards people that are not so caught up in the ruckus … They aim high, but are transparent and provide tons of value. Our friend Danny is a fine example of that.

“Build lasting relationships that over time can generate opportunity.”
– Yes, and in addition to relationships, the key here is “over time!”

This post is really my own way of saying, just stop and think about what you are doing. Don’t get too caught up in the popularity / numbers game. Think about someone on the other end and what you can do for them, then write your ass off ;)

I’d say you’re not only striving, you’re making it happen and it looks like you are building quite a community.

Cheers to you!


Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca February 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Oh my… I’m glad I swung by, it’s been awhile, Craig, and you continue to rock!

Well, I’ve no doubt there’ll be tons of support for these views and ideas.

In fact, I myself ADORE them, and passionately express similar things all over RyzeOnline.com :)

That being said, I believe people count on me for “fresh views”, so here’s one of mine:

I ADORE fame.

Of any kind.

The same way I ADORE money of any kind.

To me they both exist as tools.

They’re related, and they amplify one’s message, values, and out-reach. Period.

AAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand like any tool, they can be used well or poorly. They can be neglected, or over-focused on.

Well, I’ve rambled enough, but if anyone wants more .. I talk about this a lot more here: http://ryzeonline.com/fame/

Just my 2 cents ;)


Craig McBreen February 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Hey Jason,

Great to see you around these parts. Appreciate the kind words!

“AAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand like any tool, they can be used well or poorly. They can be neglected, or over-focused on.”
– Yep! And that’s really what I’m talking about here. I’ve used our pop culture’s 15-minute version as an example, and to me that’s fame for fame’s sake and yes, I guess you could say that is done poorly.

With that being said, I certainly admire many famous people, and some star bloggers, BUT today’s post is my own little way of telling peeps to simply stop and think about what they’re doing. Avoid getting too caught up in the blogging – popularity / numbers game. When you plan, write, design … think about someone on the other end (or some business or org) and what you can do for them. Then write and plan your little ass off ;)

Oh, and I adore money just as much as you ;)


Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca March 10, 2013 at 6:24 am

Haha! I figured we were on the same page, that’s why I felt I could summarize your point well :) I’m feelin’ it.

Your message its great, I love it :)

Oh, and re: the money thing — are you SURE you love it as much as me, because s far I’ve met very few who can sincerely, deeply, powerfully express about it like I did in THIS video:


Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca recently posted..Powerfully Powerless (Is It You?)My Profile


Craig McBreen March 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm


You got me … not sure I could express it quite like you did in that video.


Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca March 10, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Haha, classy, sir!

[grin] lol — I’m just showin’ off — we both know ya loves money too :)

Thanks for bein’ you, Craig!
Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca recently posted..Powerfully Powerless (Is It You?)My Profile

Mary Stephenson February 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Hi Craig

You ask what did we learn from Charlie Sheen. Well, maybe that drinking too much and acting like a jerk, no matter how rich you are…you can be kicked to the curb.

But since most of us are not famous or probably ever will be, we should never forget where we came from. I see this in business a lot. A boss forgets to treat others below him/her correctly as if they forgot that they were also once new.

Being true to yourself is probably the best message of all. Lots of things to remember today.

Mary Stephenson recently posted..What is Their Story?My Profile


Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca February 18, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I’d like to chime with Mary here :)

I almost didn’t talk about the Charlie line, but I’m glad you mentioned it, Mary :)

Because I personally, learned a ton from Charlie Sheen.

I learned that the human body can genetically process far more substances then we imagine, and not only continue to function, but actually… “rock life”.

I learned that even poorly articulated, crazy-sounding self-expression contains wisdom if we look.

I learned that some people on earth do whatever’s fun for them (or whatever mistakes they wanna make), and allow others the same luxury.

And I wrote an article about this as well called : “Fire Your Doctor, Eat Like Charlie Sheen, And Win At Life” but I’ll hold back the link ;)


Lemme go on record again though, saying that I agree so much with the crux of craigs message here, which I interpret to be — drop the fame-obsession. Don’t be overly focused on it. Keep contributing to the world and being passionate.

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Craig McBreen February 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Hi Jason,

You, Sir are correct – the crux of my message is about not getting caught up in the popularity / numbers game. Think about someone on the other end and what you can do for them, then make “it” happen. There are plenty of super-famous people that have done it this way :)


Craig McBreen February 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Hi Mary,

The Sheen thing was amusing for a while. It’s great fodder for comedians, but it got old real fast. Yes, he recovered, but …

Being true to yourself is a good rule to follow, Mary, and you’re right about the opposite often occurring in business. If someone shoots to the top it’s pretty hard for them to remain somewhat humble. We’ve all seen that problem child ;)



Srinivas February 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Obviously this resonates with me my friend. It’s amazing how obsessed we’ve become with mass attention. I’ve been watching the Bloomberg “Game Changers” series on Netflix. Profiles are of people like Zuckerberg, Jon Stewart, Jay Z, etc, etc. You know what makes me laugh. In every episode they say “so and so declined to participate.” Jon Stewart a guy with his own show declines to participate. Interestingly enough, they reach the masses, but they stay so true to their craft that we love them.

I won’t be Jon Stewart, although I do love his title of “the most trusted man in America.” I’d wear that like a badge of an honor over meaningless metrics and measurements. Even Seth in one of his latest posts said it’s time to choose yourself. You don’t even need the approval of the bigger bloggers. Good stuff as always my friend.
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Craig McBreen February 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Hey Srini,

Indeed, in this anything for fame culture.

I used the word “craft” above and that comes to mind with Joh Stewart. He’s not only on top of the news of the day, he obviously writes his ass off producing funny, intelligent content, and he’s never slipped a notch.

I love what Seth Godin has to say about this, “pick yourself,” and how humble he is. It’s obvious from his interviews that he thinks internet fame borders on the silly. He’s a guy who is certainly helping individuals and businesses on the other end. Plus he’s been warning us all what is coming for a while ;)

Thanks for stopping in!


Geoff Livingston February 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I did a study for PayPal that showed the tighter knit the community, the more likely it was to act. As stars become bigger, they have less ability to sway individuals (generally). I would opt for micro over macro anytime.
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Craig McBreen February 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Hi Geoff,

That’s interesting and just read the post. I like what you wrote about real influence online not necessarily meaning you’re the most well known, but rather the most engaged … how the lesser know people outpace the stars, and authentic story is really what grabs attention. Man do I love that.

And you wrote: “Real influence is more than popularity …” Kind of sums up my thoughts here. I feel a little better after reading that ;)


Sheila Bergquist February 19, 2013 at 1:38 am

Craig, I especially enjoyed this post because I needed to be reminded to just be myself and stop worrying about all the other stuff. We get so caught up in trying to get traffic, rank with Google, get known…it can drive you crazy! What you’re saying brings it down to a simple level that makes such sense. Thanks!
Darn, Kaarina, now I’ve got that song in my head too! But that’s ok…it’s one of my favs!
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Craig McBreen February 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Hi Sheila,

Thanks and yes be yourself and let the vortex be ;) We also get caught up in joining everyone’s list and trying to go in too many directions. Whittle that stuff down and focus on the right things … That spark that Kaarina is so fond of :)

Thanks for coming by today!


Ameena Falchetto February 19, 2013 at 2:59 am

Micro over macro for sure! It’s funny how many people think they crave the attention of the world – I always said I’d hate to be a celeb especially as there is a huge percentage of people actually waiting for you to crash and burn. Human nature can be so horrible at times!
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Craig McBreen February 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Hi Ameena,

Funny … Yes. It. Is!

And you are so right about people wishing for celebs to crash and burn. Even in our own bubble, I’m often surprised at the vitriol directed at certain bloggers considered A-Listers.

Thanks for stopping in!


Kelly Wiliamson April 24, 2013 at 1:39 am

Thanks for the reminder to always come back to your original purpose. The memoir I am writing is gut wrenching to pen, but is something I know will help others. In my quest to build a platform prior to publication, I do get caught up in the follower frenzy at times. Well said!


Craig McBreen April 24, 2013 at 11:12 am

Hi Kelly,

Thank you for dropping in!

Yes, it’s very difficult to stay on task with so many distractions. The swirling social media vortex is calling you daily :)

Sounds like you up to something big! Sounds great to me, because sometime gut wrenching means it’ll be that much more special!


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