… the attention economy

I came across this lovely RSA short and thought it was worth a share. The talk is by James Williams from 2017 (the animation is new). The more I listened, the more I nodded.

… and our infinite appetite for distractions

The attention we give to our distractions – especially during the last lockdown, to TV and social media on our devices is growing, as we feed off the addictive dopamine hits we get (let’s face it, we need it!).

Early on into the pandemic – as early as March, in America internet use was up 70%, and it was quoted that ‘more than half of Americans are suffering from “screen fatigue” .

The need for distraction from the misery of the pandemic has us binge watching TV shows, no longer just on Netflix or Amazon Prime, all the main TV channels now offer whole series for consumption. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that in addition to Snapchat and YouTube, one of their major competitors was … sleep.

“You get a show or a movie you’re really dying to watch, and you end up staying up late at night, so we actually compete with sleep… And we’re winning!”

But for me what’s worrying, is that since this talk by James Williams, social media channels where we connect with family and friends, and that we feed off for small kicks of happiness, have also proven to be more and more a subliminal selling tool from a pair of shoes to the way we vote (remember Cambridge Analytica), and it happens across all platforms – those cookies are like little leeches latching onto you here, there, everywhere!

We like to think that we make up our own mind, but well, in a world in need of distractions, of influencers and cookies, do we really?

you, me Zoom

I can’t finish without mentioning Zoom – the champion of keeping businesses running during the pandemic, and which it seems is also losing its focus (I had sparkle in there, but can’t resist a pun!). Intense back-to-back meetings demanding productive outcomes drain attention, you can be on the call, but not ‘in the room’.

Side note: I have worked from home for over 20 years, and the importance of ‘work’ and ‘home’ space zones is imperative (otherwise I might have a tidy house!).

… to get back to the RSA short
We are flooded with information. It fills our in-boxes, our social media channels, TV, radio, but I wonder how well we can judge its value and find, and assimilate truths.

“when information becomes abundant, attention becomes the scarce resource”
Herbert Simon [1970s]

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