3 min read
A subtle but profound change has happened during the last years. Our most valuable commodity has been captivated and exploited. Can you guess what it is? I’m talking about attention. Yes, the very ability to focus on something has been taken from many of us. In this post I try to elaborate my thoughts and hopefully establish a dialog on this issue.
As conscious beings we access reality through attention. It is what we hear, see, taste and most importantly what occupies our minds. We constantly try to perceive reality, but end up with only a glimpse of it. By paying attention we are able to take action and interact with our surroundings. We interact with other beings and therefore are perceived by them. It is the social fabric and the ability to deal with reality that keeps us alive. For a long time there has only been one reality to deal with.
A new reality
With the expansion of the digital realm we can now access an alternate reality. Through smartphones, screens or any other internet device we can open a window into another realm. New identities are formed, trust is reestablished and in some cases a new life is being formed. Of course this is true as long as you are online.
Me, myself and I
Individualism and social media make great pairing, at least profit wise. Big tech have become the most powerful and influential companies in the world. Remember that they are not moving solid goods, but only information in the form of bits and bytes. The business model relies on exploiting privacy and sell user data to the highest bidder. From an individualistic point of view it seems like a good deal. But from societies standpoint it couldn’t be worse. People giving away their most valuable commodity sure is not a good thing.
Who wants my attention?
The attention economy is an approach to apply economic theories to solve information management problems. It views human attention as a commodity and does not care about ethic and moral. Companies using economic theories and technology to captivate our attention. Not only can they keep us in echo chambers, but also steer what occupies our minds. What reads like a conspiracy theory, has become the harsh reality.
We are not able to change situation in short terms, but we have the ability to reason and discuss the value of attention right now. We also have the ability to tender our consciousness. Think of consciousness as a garden. It constantly changes, evolves and flourishes. New plants and thoughts strive under the right conditions, however, there are also weeds and pests. From time to time you need to weed the garden and therefore cultivate your consciousness.
Think without judgment
The cultivation of consciousness does not need a detailed explanation. A consciousness in a healthy state is able to think without judgment. Thoughts flow almost uninterrupted, obstacles are elegantly avoided and there is a sense of profound fulfillment. There are many practices that help maintaining your attention. Anything from a stroll in the forest to an elaborate hike in the mountains will give you some peace of mind.
It is crucial that we own our attention, only then we can be conscious.
Instead of providing a summary and my opinionated answers, I would like to get inputs from you.
- Do you agree or disagree with the idea of attention being stolen from us?
- What strategies and habits have you developed to tender your garden?
- Do you see a link between consciousness and attention?
- When thinking about something do you make a distinction between yourself and society?
- How can we regain our attention? Is it only through the regulation of big tech?
Tags: attention , conciousness
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