I recently started listening to a book called The Attention Merchants on my way to work.
I came across the book in some lunchtime conversation at work. It piqued my interest, so now I’m in the second chapter.
Naturally, I already feel qualified to talk about the subject.
On a serious note, I have some pretty strong opinions on this already, so I thought I’d write them down here, to be able to look back and see how my perceptions may change after reading the book.
So right now, I’m completely of the school of thought that we live too distracted as a society. I feel we are basically giving our time away by accepting certain things as normal. Things like:
- Ads in social network feeds
- Tracking my google searches to creepily serve me ads related to those searches (Yes, google, I want to be a good programmer. No google, I’m not interested in this bootcamp that’s halfway across the globe)
The book, so far, talks a good deal about a certain ‘deal’ we’ve been given, and accept by default. The ‘deal’ is more or less:
We give you free/cheap content. You give us a little bit of attention here and there.
Seems harmless. Seems like a steal, even.
Something interesting that the book starts mentioning is how our attention has been transformed into a commodity, that has measurable value, and can be sold.
So all those, check-ins on Facebook, those Snaps, and Instagram posts… that’s basically money you are giving away.
Well, through that content you produce, you help the social network garner the attention of your friends. That attention is then harvested, and sold to the highest bidder in order to serve an ad.
I’ve already been challenging this agreement, or at least trying to.
I’ve uninstalled all social network apps from my phone:
- Even Facebook (gasp)
Not only that, but I’ve gone so far as to delete accounts of all but the essential (my judgement) social networks:
- Pinterest (Don’t judge me)
I’ve decided that my phone should only serve two purposes:
- To communicate with people I know (1:1 communication)
- To increase my productivity
That’s why I only have apps that serve those two purposes:
- Inbox by Google
- WhatsApp (Family is on it)
- Budgeting Apps
- Google Drive
Here’s the sad truth I’ve had to accept:
I’m an addict.
I’m addicted to distraction, to social media, to endlessly scrolling through feed or self-advancing videos. My brain is physiological no different from that of a drug addict.
That means I’ve been massively wasted a huge chunk of my twenties to build this addiction. The way I see it, my twenties and thirties are a human’s most productive chapters of our lives.
Sidenote: According to my Toltec ancestors, this was the part of my life where I was to ‘Build My Economy’.
What did I do? Wasted it on social media.
So yeah, it gets pretty personal for me. And that’s why I’m making the decision to stop consuming.
And a funny thing is happening as a result: I have more time.
I now have more time to create. To produce. To make things.
Case in point, I’m writing more. I’m reading more. I’m playing more music.