~ BY SHREYA PANDEY
Attention is considered an essential ability for a good and productive life. Since childhood, our parents, teachers, and elders ask us to be attentive while performing any task. But today, attention has become more relevant than ever before because it has an economic value. Welcome to the age of the attention economy, where your attention generates revenue for the information producers.
What is the Attention Economy?
The term attention economy, alternatively known as attention economics or economics of attention, was coined by 1970 Nobel Prize-winning economist Herbert Alexander Simon. According to him, “What information consumes is the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
Scholars like Michael H. Goldhaber and Kevin Kelly further developed the concept. Paying attention to one thing at a time has never been easy. In the digital age, the scarcity of attention due to information overload further enhances the importance of the economics of attention.
Strategies to grab Attention
The techniques used to grab the viewer’s attention include the attractive user interface, exciting graphics, crisp content with fewer words and more visuals, short videos [Instagram reels and YouTube shorts] and clickbait. Shortening the length of videos and creating small clips with fast music and information makes the content more attractive and engaging. Reels, Youtube shorts, TikTok clips etc are successful because they manage to engage the viewers. Everybody is up for watching a 30 seconds Instagram reel, but not a 30 minutes youtube video.
But was our attention span always so low? Turns out, no!
Effects of the Attention Economy
‘If something’s for free, you are the product.’
The attention of consumers is for sale in the attention economy. Today, companies are in a rat-race to gain consumers’ attention. In this hustle, they have churned out content which viewers are more like to engage with, hence, making it shorter. This has severely affected the attention span of human beings. Our attention span has reduced dramatically. Everybody finds it difficult to maintain an unwavering focus and concentration. A study has found that an average college stundent has an attention span of 65 seconds per task. Other than that, it leads to technology-induced addiction like social media addiction or mobile phone addiction.
So if you often feel that you are unable to focus or concentrate on a given task, know that you are not alone!
Ways to protect oneself
Reduced attention span, lack of concentration and wandering mind has become normal for humans. The fact that our social environment is continuously being built to steal our attention makes it difficult to protect oneself from the contemporary attention economy. Although it is nearly impossible to completely shield ourselves from the repercussions of attention ecnomy, we can protect ourselves partially.
Firstly, mindfulness is the need of the hour. Meditation and mindfulness can teach us to disconnect from the internet world for few minutes a day. It can help us to rediscover the lost sense of calm. Secondly, minimizing the use of social media can help us regain our attention span. Scrolling mindlessly through attention grabbing reels for hours at end causes waste of time, energy and attention span. Instead, set a time limit for your social media use and follow it strictly.
Having a better sleep ritual can also help. This involves avoiding blue-rays screen before sleeping. We can replace screen with a book or a song each night.
So, let us reclaim our own attention from the online world, shall we?