Paying (with your) Attention in the Digital Age
Our actions are often a consequence of where we place our attention. Increasingly our attention is hijacked in order to stimulate actions that are primarily beneficial to the hijacker. Such is life in the digital / attention economy.
Your attention is a valuable resource. Companies such as Google and Amazon can monetise it. Of course, you can become a Youtube sensation, and join the party.
Paying attention is built into our wiring. For most of mankind’s time on the planet, attention has protected us, and our tribe, from predators. This is one of the main reasons, no doubt, as to why our hunter gatherer forefathers did not wear MP3 players whilst out on the savanna.
It would appear, judging by the popular use of headphones, that we live in a predator-free world, and can thus frivolously expend our attention on whatever takes our fancy. Smart people use this cognitive rebate to do great work. There is a strong correlation between cognitive capacity and creativity.
As mentioned, there is a whole new generation of attention predators, ranging from the diversionary bleep of a social media app, through to the compelling fat, sugar and salt cocktail of that brioche-bun cheeseburger. Again, the ‘all you can consume’ models developed by the likes of Amazon and Google, add to the continuous stream of ‘dopamine hits’ that are now part of life in the digital age. Why delay gratification, when it is just a click away?
It’s your call as to how you use your attention, or how you let your attention be used. But you might want to consider whether the investment of your attention is giving you a decent return. Enjoying that dopamine-drenched video game certainly feels like a great use of your time, until you realise that there are not enough hours remaining to eat, sleep and finish that important report before the meeting tomorrow morning.
Your choice of Youtube content can either be a learning investment (eg crash course economics), or a semi-comatosed journey into the world of accident-prone pets. Either way, your eyeballs will be monetised. In broad terms, just be sure that you are not the fool when trading your attention.
I encourage you to pay close attention to where you place your attention. Attention is not free. In fact, spent unwisely, it could turn out very costly for you in the longer term. Alternatively, smartly invested attention has the power to significantly enrich your value proposition, and the quality of your life experience.
The predators never went away. They just look different in the digital age.
Keep your eyes peeled!