The thing is, we are surrounded by people, corporations, and the miscellaneous desperate for our attention. The ads that follow us in our browsers, emails, television, and on our phones are the perfect examples of how desperate the world is to get our attention.
Buy me, because if you buy me you will be healthier, happier, more content.
Buy me, because you bought a book that was similar last week, and we think that you will like this one.
Watch this movie because you liked that movie (a very simple algorithm to put into place).
We walk through the world only two or three steps away from living in that science fiction reality where billboards follow us around, adapting instantaneously to the things that we look at, or research, or even talk about.
Our attention is gold.
Now. I’ve had these thoughts for some time. My spouse tends to go on about surveillance and one of the biggest surveillance states we live in is the one attached to our data. Try googling something, a product, and within the next breath, that product will be on the side of your next website. If you have Alexa or any other smart anything, say something and don’t be surprised if an ad shows up in your email.
Look at me. Look at me. Look at me.
My thoughts on this are partially in response to what I’ve read recently, among which includes Johann Hari’s new book Lost Connections. Lost Connections is a brilliant book that I will likely write more about later because it delves deeply into what I think is wrong with society. It’s kind of nice to have your opinions and thoughts validated by science, and in his books, a lot of what I think and have thought about, is definitely validated.
But I digress. Hari talks about attention. He talks specifically about the junk that surrounds us, like ads, and how when we pay attention to these they have a rather negative impact on our lives.
His outtake is that these attention grabbers should be severely curtailed (like they’ve done in Brazil with ads, apparently).
I don’t know if I agree with him there, or at least not entirely, but it does come back to the idea that what we give our attention to, is what we fill our lives with.
Going back then, we have two distinct branches of why our attention is so important.
First, our attention is valuable. As mentioned, a lot of people (and corporations with a lot of money) want our attention and they will go out of their way to get it.
I am going to say that again:
Our attention is valuable.
Second off, what we pay attention to can have an impact on our mental well-being, our financial well-being, and our time.
Time, dear readers. I know I can’t be the only one who feels as if there is not enough time in the day. So much to do. So little time.
Time is valuable.
Our attention is valuable.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, not only the context of ads, but in the context of my social media usage, or the books I read, or the movies I watch. Sure, we don’t have to give our attention to “important” things all of the time. I mean, who says what is important anyway (hint: this too is being manipulated to grab attention).
And paying attention to whatever is not inherently bad. I mean, if you want to pay attention to your social media status; great. I am not being snarky here, either (promise!!). Seriously, pay attention to whatever you want.
The caveat that I suggest is that we are AWARE of where our attention is going. That we realize what we are consuming, and more, that we realize that our attention is incredibly valuable. Advertisers pay millions to place an ad during the Super Bowl because they know the audience will be huge and we will be paying attention.
Millions, dear readers.
That is how valuable we are. Or, well, how valuable our attention is…
I am still playing with this thought; still exploring and poking; but there is something there, something that is “important,” and I am sniffing at the trail to find out if there is more to this story.
But. What about you, darlings? What do you give your attention to? Are you aware of how valuable you are?
Until next time, may you fill your space with things that you find interesting, valuable, and fun.