• Patrick McAndrew

Guess Who’s Coming to Stranger Things! (Do I Have Your Attention?)

So… I have no idea who’s coming to Stranger Things in Season 3. But feel free to guess in the comments below!  This guy will likely be back and he is most awesome!

Did I just manipulate you?  Perhaps, but I’m certainly not the first.

Funny Youtube videos! Political Facebook posts!  Racy tweets!  Scandalous Instagram photos!  Look at me!  Look at me!  Look at me!

The old adage, “Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it!” seems to work in a different way nowadays, quite different from the young paperboy looking to earn his pittance.  It takes a lot more than shouting, “Extra! Extra!” to get our attention.  Though I recommend trying that out.  I’m sure you will get a couple of heads that turn.

Today’s topic (drum roll please)………..THE ATTENTION ECONOMY! “Oh, c’mon!  Again with the attention economy!”  Alas, I have mentioned this “attention economy” thang in one or two previous posts before, but I have only touched upon it.  I thought I would seize your attention by talking about it in a little more detail.

Do I have your attention?  If I do, it is likely, pardon me saying this, half-assed.  There is a 99% chance that you have several other windows up.  And I do not take offense to that, for I am right there with you my virtual friend.  I appreciate you squeezing me in!

While we’re at it, watch this video about the attention economy and how several tech companies addict us to technology:

Did you make it through the video?  Likely not.  It’s just about eleven minutes long.  If you did watch the video in its entirety, you likely opened up some other tabs while the video was running. Perhaps you checked your e-mail while still listening to the content.  Perhaps you were working on something while listening.  Perhaps you are supposed to be working on something important right now and this blog post is now distracting you from perhaps more productive things you should be doing!

I am a most sinister fellow! Ah, but cake and baloney! My hope is that this blog post is not a waste of your time and that you are gaining an immense amount of value from reading this.

This whole attention economy thing is something that is very important to be aware of.  In the video, Will states, “Information consumes our attention, making it a scarce resource.”  He continues, “You dominate the attention economy if you can make people develop a habit where they spend time.”

Social networks are the kings of the crop in the attention economy because they need your attention in order to make a profit through advertisements or other means.  They try to keep you on their sites for as long as possible and make it as difficult as possible to exit.

Of course, this means an endless cycle of distraction.  Research shows that it takes 23 minutes to resume focus after any interruption.  So, if we let ourselves get interrupted consistently throughout the day, we aren’t going to get much work done.

Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, feared a world that is strikingly similar to the one we are living today.  Will states in the video, comparing Huxley’s fear to George Orwell’s:

  • What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who would want to read one.

  • Huxley feared those who would give us so much information that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism.

  • Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

The attention economy isn’t all bad, as it has provided us with a wealth of information, connection to those at a distance, and conversations about important social and economic issues in the world.  But I think the second point above is one not to forget.  Because of this wealth of information, many of us live our lives passively.  We retreat to an online world that is an endless blackhole of information and we literally lose ourselves.

It’s important to be mindful of our time.  It’s important to not get sucked into a blackhole.  It’s important to take moments in our day and ask, “Is this really productive right now?”  I’m not saying don’t take breaks, or don’t use Facebook, or don’t watch Netflix.  These things are great!  I’m just saying we should be mindful of how much time we are spending on these luxuries.  Because they will let us stay on them forever if we let them.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think we spend too much time on the internet?  On TV?  On our phones or computers?  Do you ever feel like your day has been wasted away?  Comment below!


PS: Sorry about the title. Though somewhat jerky, it was used to illustrate my point.  Hope you can forgive me :)

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