You might have heard US Conservatives mocking leftist criticisms of Donald Trump by saying, “Orange man bad.”
It implies that we’re getting simpler and dumber, allowing others to quickly dismiss our criticisms at face value.
… And, they’re probably not wrong. As our attention spans shrink, our ability to think properly diminishes.
In recent years, you may be bored of hearing about how Big Tech and Social Media are harming us, both as individuals and as a society. And it’s tempting to mock and dismiss these criticisms as, “Big Tech bad,” or just shrug our shoulders and say, “I don’t care, it doesn’t affect me.”
But in my opinion, we all desperately need to pause, listen and think very carefully about our use of Big Tech and Social Media. What kind of society are we heading towards?
Big tech, specifically Google and Facebook, make their money by hijacking our attention and manipulating us. I know that might sound like a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory, but it really isn’t.
Check out this interview with Tristan Harris, ex-Google Ethicist and Co-Founder of the Center for Humane Technology. He outlines the problems we’re facing as a society, why we’re so blind to the real issues, and gives some suggestions for change.
What do you think? Do we need to end the attention economy?
Should we ban all attention-based advertising?
Was Bill Hicks (RIP) right – is all advertising and marketing the work of Satan? (Personally, I’ve long held the opinion that he’s probably correct).
How can we make large companies operate ethically, even if doing so would negatively affect their financial results?
What actions can we take as individuals to correct these imbalances?
Personally, I’m much more careful with what activities I place my attention onto. I quit my Facebook and Instagram accounts months ago, with no regrets. I try to ensure that most of my time is spent on activities which feel truly meaningful to me.
I recommend you seriously reconsider how you use social media platforms and your smartphone.
I also disagree with Tristan Harris about the best solution to these problems. He wants a top-down solution with government regulation. But I think we shouldn’t wait for the government to take regulatory action on our behalf.
I think the very best response is to take control of your own life, your own attention. Take personal, individual responsibility.
Stop giving your attention to things which don’t matter and which make you worse as a human being.
You deserve better. We all do.
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