Most systems have some sort of currency. Market economies have money. Cells have ATP. The fame game has attention. The currencies are often taken for granted; I don’t think why I can exchange a sweaty handful of bills for a sweaty handful of Bud Light–I just do it, and all is well.
In fact, it’s sort of unseemly to talk openly about currency in itself. Talking about jobs among friends, we pass off money as a tangential factor: “The money’s better, sure, but I’m really excited about . . .”
So it is with attention. We don’t say, “Gosh I enjoy staring at hot babes (dudes, cars, gadgets, whatever)”–in fact, in those cases, we don’t even say anything. The reaction is internal and, often, unnoticed.
The name for a big pile of money is wealth; a big pile of attention is fame. The difference is that people have spent a lot of time studying how money works. One can, for example, get a PhD in economics. When it comes to attention and fame, though, we act as if there’s some sort of alchemy that happens.
Really, though, fame comes from attention, and attention comes from individual people–from you and from me. It’s time we start analyzing how people accumulate our valuable attention.