I laughed because, living in a big city, I’m constantly surrounded by people. Spending so much time around way too many people, how could I still be longing for, craving, wanting for human connection? A small talk about the weather, a chat about grocery prices at the store, a quick vent session about life at the train station? It used to be.
The answer came to me just as quickly: Everyone is here, online; talking about the weather, complaining about grocery prices, and venting about life on the world wide web.
I’m just not here. And it sucks.
Everyone is talking, but the silence is deafening.
Too long, won’t read version: Add an offline activity to the start of your day for better days.
The long version: I paid attention and realized something yesterday. #storytime
I left my Airpods at home yesterday after my phone kindly warned me I’ve exceeded the recommended level for audio exposure. Got me wondering, how else is one supposed to listen to So Mi Like It? I digress…
Anyway, I wanted to give my ear a break, and didn’t want any temptation, so I brought a book instead for my commute. Usually, I’d read an e-book on my phone, while listening to music, switching between this app then that app, skipping this song then that song, you know the usual. On this particular commute, however, it was just my book and I, and my phone stayed in my purse.
If I told you your attention is worth billions of dollars, would you believe me?
In 2019, Instagram reportedly generated $20 billion in revenue, “an extraordinary success” for a photo-sharing app. That same year, Facebook made $70.9 billion. What exactly is apps like Instagram and Facebook selling to generate such a staggering amount of profit?
To generate such profit, the likes of Facebook would do anything to keep us constantly paying attention to their apps and feeds, including offering their services for free. We pay the price in our collectively declining mental, physical, and social well-being.
Attention harvesting and selling attention is a very profitable business model. The slot-machines in our pockets ping, ding, and provide limitless content to command our attention. And, we give our attention away freely.
Why don’t we value our attention as much as Instagram values it?