- We weren't meant to know what everyone is thinking
- Internet era + massive information feeds lead to unprecedented levels of access to content
- Aside: attempt to quantify
- The effects of this much consumption - shorter attention spans, less original thought
- A crisis of attention / what are we getting out of this?
- My social media thesis
I read somewhere that we weren't meant to know what everyone is thinking, and I agree with that.
The Grand Attention Bazaar
What really helped me realize the true impact of this is trying to visualize it, so let's do just that. Bear with me for a minute.
Imagine a Bazaar. A marketplace, for those unfamiliar. Something like this.
Alex Azabache, Unsplash This looks about right.
You're ready to venture in and explore what this marketplace has to offer. How exciting! Multiple tradespeople, multiple crafts, and so, so many goods! You're amazed at the power of the Bazaar as a unifying force. So much to learn! So much to explore, and so much to see!
How could someone not like this?
So you step inside. Wow! It's an explosion of color, and a riot of different worlds coming together. It's the perfect way to spend time!
Here's the catch.
Anytime you look at something, you have to buy it. These cost money, and you're going to spend it regardless of what happens.
Sucks, doesn't it?
The second you walk into the bazaar, your eyes fall on the person who had the luck to be there - and you feel your wallet getting lighter, looking at their wares. Unable to control yourself, you look to the next person, walking through the bazaar. Without your control, you see your balance steadily getting lower and lower.
Disaster! You can hardly control yourself. You turn your eyes to the floor, but you find someone lying down in your path, who you will see regardless of what you do - and your money goes there, too.
Have we ever really thought about how much content we're consuming? Every single feed - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatnot - if we actually quantified the time we spent consuming content there, how much would we have consumed?
How many books worth of tweets, reel captions and post captions have we read? How many albums of pictures have we seen? How many movies worth of reels and youtube videos have we watched? How many lectures worth of podcasts have we heard? The aim of asking these questions isn't to say that these platforms, apps or technologies are inherently bad, but rather to motivate a train of thought with regard to two things -
- Quantified, how much content do we consume in a day?
- What do we get out of all this?
If a product is free, your time and attention is what you pay with. That's the truth. The more fragmented your attention is, the lesser you mind interruptions (i. e. Ads), so ads can be placed without you making out that is an interruption. Definitely a