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Five minutes of fame



When I go watch a movie or a play, I almost never read the synopsis or watch the trailers before deciding to watch a movie. Sometimes, I won't even know who the actors are. I just go. And decide whether the movie or play was worth watching after I've watched it.

This means I miss out on some good ones and I end up watching some that I would rather have given the pass. But it's no big deal. I can still watch the ones I missed out at a later point in time.

But I get why a lot of people do read the synopsis and the reviews and the ratings and watch the trailers before even deciding to watch a movie. They are afraid of missing out on something good and at the same time wasting money on something okay-ish. Everyone wants to maximise their experiences for the effort they put in.

It is the same when people travel. I went to Valencia during La Tomatina (I even had an entry ticket), but didn't go for the tomato throwing festival. I spent a few days in Rome but didn't see the water fountains. And I went to Venice and didn't ride in the Gondola. But most travel guides tell you these are all must-dos. I did other things that were not on the must-do lists and enjoyed the experiences nonetheless.

What these places and these movies have to do to get our attention is to ensure they get featured in the right blogs and websites and get the right ratings. Otherwise, a lot of us won't even glance their way. They have to ensure they stand out in the five minutes that we possibly encounter them or lose the chance of getting us to check them out.

This thinking works not just for consumption. It works the other way around as well. That is, when we want others to consume us (to keep with the same verb). This thinking extends to the life choices that we make, the colleges we go to, the jobs we take up, the partners we choose. As Elissa Patel puts it:
"I began to wonder - how many of my friends live their lives for those five minutes, basing their decisions on what will sound most impressive:
Which college sounds the best?
Which company?
Which job title?
Which words to describe what I do will make me sound important?
If you answer all the above correctly, you end up with the perfect five minute conversation. You. Are. Impressive.
But are you?"
This is what I call impressive on paper. And a lot of us strive our entire lives to be impressive on paper, because on paper (and on trailers) is how we judge others, and expect to be judged by others. We strive for that perfect five minute conversation.

I would rather get out there and have the real experience than judge someone over the five minute conversation. But I concede that that isn't always the practical (or possible) thing to do. But then again, it's a culture thing. If all movie-goers were like me, IMDb would be out of business.

Maybe filtering based on the five minute conversation is acceptable in many cases, but not when you're deciding whether you (or the ones close to you) are impressive.

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