3 Key Insights You Need To Know About The Attention Economy
We use digital media every day, from texting, streaming movies, music, and gaming to using voice assistants, ordering our food online, or even trying to find our love partners!
“Zoom fatigue,” “distraction,” and “doomscrolling” are now everyday terms for many of us.
Reed Hastings, Netflix’s CEO, even said that their “biggest competitors are YouTube, Facebook, and sleep.”
Here are some stats for you:
- More than 150 times a day—that is how many times we check our mobile phones every day
- We spend 4.8 hours on average on our phones every day
- Employees spend 28% of their time on average managing their emails every day
- Employees check their email 11 times per hour on average
1. What Is “Attention Economy”?
The attention economy is usually defined as an approach to managing information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems. “Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it” (M. Crawford). Attention is not only a resource but a currency: users pay for a service with their attention. And it should be good for brands that have a powerful new tool to let people know about the products and services they sell such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
2. Knowing How The Brain Works Is The Best Way To Gain People’s Attention
The human brain is hard-wired for searching for novelty and happiness for survival reasons. And through behaviorism, reducing the human reactions to animal reactions. Behaviorism assumes that behavior is either a reflex evoked by the pairing of certain antecedent stimuli in the environment, or a consequence of that individual’s history, including especially reinforcement and punishment contingencies, together with the individual’s current motivational state and controlling stimuli. With this, and the use of “persuasive design,” tech designs tend to be highly appealing and rewarding to humans.
3. Multitasking: Real Value Adding “Skill” Or Myth?
When you think about your attention, multitasking is typically one skill that we believe in capitalizing on. The question: can we really multitask, and what happens in our brains, in our cognitive energy? Multitasking is really a rapid context-shifting back and forth (G. Mark, 2018) vs. doing two or more things at the same time. The latter for humans simply does not exist. The prefrontal cortex has what is known as a “central bottleneck”; our prefrontal cortex switches between tasks. Even though it feels like we are doing more than one thing at a time, it is really switching. This is what has led to the feeling referred to as the “myth” of multitasking—we are not really doing more than one thing unless they become very automated, i.e. gum chewing and walking.
Multitasking gives a sense of flexibility, fresh perspective, and increased variety. It enables us to use downtime productively, but probably the most salient aspect is that it is just more fun. We are novelty-seeking creatures. It is a very strong part of our evolution to seek out new things. It stimulates the dopamine system, the reward system.
Finally, if you want to break patterns and regain attention time, you now want to do something about the triggers themselves. Breaking habits isn’t about stopping but substituting. The key here is mapping this out before those triggers have a chance to kick in.
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