Don’t Waste Your Attention on Chrissy Teigen's Tweets
I am very good at letting tiny things annoy me to a ludicrous degree. When I lose a single earring, attempt to go to a store that’s unexpectedly closed, or witness someone cut in line, I experience a rage that can consume me for up to an hour as I (respectively) tear through my belongings, stomp back home, or shit talk the perpetrator to anyone who will listen. As a result, when I am able to control my anger and how much of my precious attention it consumes, I choose, instead, to chill. Yesterday, the choice was extremely easy, because: I don’t give a fuck about Chrissy Teigen’s tweets.
Chrissy Teigen is rich. She hosted TV shows, published two successful cookbooks, and sells her own cookware. She is also married to John Legend, a successful singer, who is also rich. Together, they are very rich. I don’t know how rich, but rich enough that when they were apparently duped into ordering a $13,000 bottle of wine, they were able to ... just pay for it.
one time john and I were at a restaurant and the waiter recommended a nice Cabernet. We got the bill and it was 13,000 dollars. HOW DO U CASUALLY RECOMMEND THAT WINE. we didn’t even finish it and it had been cleared!!!— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) February 3, 2021
This was the latest tweet to get Teigen trending. Obviously, a majority of people reading the anecdote couldn’t relate to an accidental $13,000 bottle of wine being an annoying misunderstanding and not, say, a financial hit that is 10 times their monthly rent. I understand that someone struggling with unemployment and other financial setbacks during the pandemic would not find the anecdote funny, and to them I say: tweet away. But I don’t believe that they were the majority of the people spewing venom at Teigen, if only because I discovered the tweet thanks to people, very much employed in the media right now, who dunked on it.
Hating on Chrissy Teigen’s tweets became a thing during the pandemic because she is open about her life on social media in a way not many other celebrities of her tier are, and in light of all the unemployment, the display of her beautiful house and belongings seemed especially conspicuous. But the simple and obvious observation that Teigen should consider the optics of what she posts has warped into a consistent bad-faith reading of everything she says.
My therapist says I need something that I do for just me, as I have absolutely nothing currently lol. Today begins my journey into the horse world. I hope this dude likes me 😩 he’s so handsome and appears lazy, I love pic.twitter.com/1Ytejb4L6J— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) January 16, 2021
For instance, on the advice of her therapist, she recently took up horse riding to do something just for herself following the death of her child, because she “has absolutely nothing currently.” Reading the full tweet in context, it’s clear Teigen means she has “absolutely nothing” that she currently does just for herself. But Twitter was quick to accuse her of claiming she had “absolutely nothing,” period, and lambasted her.
a lot of u really misinterpreted this tweet and I guess that’s on me. I didn’t say I have nothing, I said I have nothing I do for just me. A convo with a therapist. A hobby. Cause I lost a baby. And I’m figuring myself out. And i didn’t buy a horse. But oh my god, what if I did? https://t.co/AYKI37VicV— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) January 18, 2021
If you scroll through Teigen’s twitter, you’ll be greeted with examples like these again and again. There was the time she got her nose pierced and people were mad, the time she got a Covid test and people were mad, the time when a photographer documented the loss of her child in the delivery room and people were mad, and the many, many times QAnon accused her of being on Jeffrey Epstein’s flight log and abusing children (she was not).
The divide between how rich people and poor people are faring during this pandemic is enraging and heartbreaking. But Chrissy Teigen is a symptom of this, not the cause. Directing anger at her is useless, whereas directing anger at, for example, your local mayor, might actually accomplish something. If you lose your mind every time you learn that a rich person is living according to their means, you are wasting precious energy and, more importantly, your attention.
Just today, The New York Times interviewed Michael Goldhaber, who predicted today’s “attention economy” back in 1997, in an essay for Wired. “The attention economy is a zero-sum game,” he wrote. “What one person gets, someone else is denied.”
He expanded on this in today’s interview, over 20 years later, when asked where we go from here, with attention fueling everything from politics to influencers.
“It’s not a question of sitting by yourself and doing nothing,” Mr. Goldhaber says. “But instead asking, ‘How do you allocate the attention you have in more focused, intentional ways?’”
I can confidently say Goldhaber is not talking about Teigen’s Twitter pile-on, but the theory is still apt. It is a waste of our limited attention to direct our anger towards someone who has good intentions but is executing them clumsily, instead of the many people with bad intentions executing them effectively.
So I just don’t care about Chrissy Teigen’s tweet. Not because I am not frustrated, but because that’s such a futile and exhausting use of my anger. Besides, I still haven’t found my earring yet.