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Psychologist: 'Live out loud' culture craves attention

Frustrated after years of dealing with delays in the Wake County Family Court system, Tonya Boykin has posted her problems on signs in front of her Raleigh home.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — From a fake report of a runaway balloon with a child on board to a desperate plea for help written on signs outside a Raleigh woman's home, many people are trying to get noticed these days.

News stories and social networking sites are full of people saying and doing outrageous things. With the world moving at a breakneck pace, psychologists say many people are struggling to be heard and noticed over all of the chaos.

Tonya Boykin of Raleigh said she decided to get attention by putting homemade signs in front of her house to show her frustration with delays in the Wake County Family Court system.

“It was really just about saying, 'This is what happened to me. Is it happening to you too?'” she said.

Boykin said she should be getting $3,300 in child support, instead of the $900 she is currently being paid by ex-husband Herculano Patino. Patino said he is paying the court-ordered amount.

Boykin originally filed her case in 2006, but it has been postponed repeatedly. She said she is in danger of having her utilities turned off and losing her home which she shares with her two children.

“There was nowhere else for me to go to get help,” she said. “I had so much negative energy inside of me, it just came out. It came out of me, everything I felt and all the stuff I had been trying to tell other people.”

Psychologist Michael Teague said many people feel like their voices are being drowned out in an overwhelming culture.

“(They’re) not feeling appreciated, not feeling recognized,” he said. “We have so many outlets today that we didn’t have in the past to get folks’ attention.”

A lot of that attention is coming from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter where the more outrageous posts get the most attention.

“Pictures of people passed out from drinking games and people have (things) written all over their face and then like half naked pictures,” said college student Laura Wilkinson.

“There are people out there who just don't care. They'll put whatever they want on there,” said David Simpson, another college student.

Kirsten Hamstra is a Web marketing specialist with SAS and said while the online world can be a great tool for businesses, it can be a dangerous place for people who share too much.

“Not only is it not private, but the Internet has a memory (and) saves all that info,” she said.

As long as people feel disconnected, this trend of living out loud will continue, according to Teague.

“The bigger society becomes – and we don't feel connected to a small town, a small family, a small group – then we're going to connect to something,” he said.

Psychologists said they don't see the living-out-loud trend lessening anytime soon as long as people are rewarded with attention for their antics, even if that attention is negative.