I don’t like watching the nightly news. While falling asleep, I like the image of portly, fluffy sheep leaping fences running through my mind instead of the local murders of the day.
Yet, in the last two weeks, I’ve listened to about 8 hours of someone talking about a murder that happened more than 10 years ago. I look forward to every Thursday so I can hear more about the murder case.
Why do I hate listening to local crime reports but am fascinated by a murder of more than 10 years ago?
The podcast that has captivated my attention for the last two weeks is called Serial. Each week a reporter from This American Life does more research into a murder that happened at a high school. She starts the podcast not knowing where it will lead, but she has doubts about whether the person who was convicted is actually guilty. If you haven’t listened to the podcast, start at episode one.
It’s Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. He says he’s innocent – though he can’t exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School says she knows where Adnan was. The trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found.
Serial has my attention each week. The question everyone who doesn’t live as a recluse in the mountains has to ask themselves at some point is: how do I get someone’s attention?
With every book that I not only read, but blaze through and lose sleep over, there is a common theme: I constantly have a question in my mind that I want answered.
I lost sleep while reading UnBroken (it’s currently $2.99 for the Kindle version. Buy it.). Almost the entire book, I kept thinking how is he going to survive?
I was introduced to the show LOST when the first season came out on DVD. I watched the 24 hour-long episodes in a weekend. The first season of LOST brings up dozens of questions.
I’m currently reading the book Smartcuts, which does something I’ve seen other books do. Shane Snow introduces a story, cuts to another story, and then comes back to finish the first story he started. By cutting off the story after a question has formed in your mind and delaying the answer, I keep reading.
Attention works by putting a question in the mind of the audience (they don’t have to even consciously be aware of the question) and then delaying the answer. The catch is that the answer has to be satisfying. Many people think LOST was brilliant at getting people hooked with interesting questions, but didn’t deliver satisfying answers.
Serial has my attention. I want to know what happens to Adnan Syed, whether he’s innocent (which I’m leaning towards) or a clever manipulator (a possibility).