What if we were to value our attention like we value money?
What radically changed my relationship with social media, or why I quit social media, was when I learned about the attention economy.
Lucky for me, I have had a strong aversion to ‘the system‘ as long as I can remember. I really am a sucker for any movement or ideology that is purely about saying a big f**k you to the system. For the longest time, my life goal was to destroy capitalism: blaming it for any and all societal ills. I have grown up a bit ever since.
So, naturally, I was perplexed when I learned about the attention economy.
I was furious.
I hated to think that social media was manipulating my psychological needs, and mild narcissism, to keep me scrolling and addicted to their platforms so big corporates can sell me products. I couldn’t accept being a sucker for capitalism and corporate interest.
I quit social media as a political act.
And, if I’m being honest, I feel a bit smug with the fact that I do not have any social media accounts to my name. Not because I feel I’m better than anyone, but because I get to say a big f**k you to the attention economy every day.
At least, when it comes to social media.
. . .
Unfortunately, the rest of the internet is a different beast.
I spend far too much time mindlessly surfing the web than I would like to admit. Do I really need to read another article on self-improvement? I don’t, but reality, actually doing the things that would improve my life, is a lot harder than living in a fantasy world of perfection via blog articles promising my best year yet.
I give my attention freely because I don’t always know what to do with it. Because I don’t always know what to do with it, I don’t value it as much.
To value our attention, we have to be intentional with it. We have to be conscious of how we spend it.
Just like we tend to value our money when we have concrete plans for it, like rent or a vacation planned, we would value our attention more if we have specific plans for it.
. . .
What would I do with all my attention if I was to cut out all the mindless surfing and put my phone down?
There are the big things: I would be more productive, connect deeply, learn a new skill, read more delightful books, sleep better, feel my emotions fully. There are also the small things: pay more attention to my surroundings, be more present in conversations, feel the sunshine.
By valuing my attention, I create the time, space and energy to devout to all the above activities that are more important and fulfilling to me.
What is considered important and/or fulfilling is different for everyone. What do you want to use your attention for?
Until next time… 🙂