The COVID pandemic has forced many of us to migrate even more of our lives online. Much of our world is now viewed through the keyhole of a screen, constricted to two dimensions; restricted to where the camera aims and what the text claims. We’re losing touch, texture, and context. The absence of familiar social cues defeats our usual attempts at attention and discretion, leaving us in thrall to well-financed and algorithmically-tuned manipulation of our fascination.
This insight is not original to me. On the contrary, this insight was not acceptable to me.
In 1997, when I read, A radical theory of value, in Wired, I thought Professor Goldhaber was nuts or grasping for a headline with another The Internet changes everything! hyperbole. The shocking subtitle was meant literally, The currency of the New Economy won’t be money, but attention. I was skeptical. Sure, every child is exhorted to, “Pay attention!” But that was a “just” metaphor. I had not noticed anyone collecting money for the attention “paid.”
Now, I see his prediction manifested globally. How else to explain the Kardashian family’s net worth of over $2,000,000,000.00, according to Forbes? This man’s foresight is astonishing. What he described long before it happened now affects us all.
if you get attention, that means you have some control over both the thoughts and actions of those paying it to you. … someone who ‘enthralls’ an audience, is in quite a real sense temporarily making the audience members her ‘thralls’ – or, slaves. Wired 1997
The New York Times recently published an update on this Cassandra of the Internet Age,
It’s impossible to understand the rise of Donald Trump and the MAGA wing of the far-right or, really, modern American politics without understanding attention hijacking and how it is used to wield power. … Nuanced policy discussions, Goldhaber said, will almost certainly get simplified into meaningless slogans … Rational discussion of what people stand to gain or lose from policies will be drowned out by the loudest and most ridiculous. NY Times 2021
Why am I emphasizing this seismic shift on a blog for business owners? The pandemic lockdowns have moved more of everyone’s life onto the Internet: yours, your employees’, your customers’, and your competitors’. If you are not effectively competing for attention you are losing money.
The star system we are accustomed to in sports, entertainment, and the arts has migrated to the professions. … In times past, you could be obscure yet secure – now that’s harder. [And, more dangerous.—APM] Wired 1997
What is your plan to earn the attention of your employees, your customers, your potential employees, and your preferred customers?
How do you manage your own attention? For a start, I recommend the daily practice of meditation. Click here to learn how, simply and for free.
Thank you for your attention.