6 Ways to Protect Your Cognitive Space in the Attention Economy | Hacker Noon

Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Gmail, Amazon, Apple, Discord, WhatsApp, Telegram, Medium, Spotfiy. Everyone wants our attention today, on every platform possible.

The Internet is the largest social engineering experiment in the history of mankind and we are reaching peak saturation of digital media and social engineering as everyone is forced to compete for everyone’s attention. How do we win a war in which the supply of our attention is linear but the demand of our attention is exponential?

The supply of our attention is very limited but the demand of our attention is only growing as the internet becomes more and more chaotic and more and more saturated with companies, entrepreneurs and media sources competing for our attention throughout different platforms, devices and social mediums.

I started thinking about this very carefully a few years ago and have only grown more and more careful, vigilant and to be quite honest a bit paranoid about what I see taking place. We are all forced to partake in the digital or internet economy in which we are all buying, selling and consuming digital or internet-based goods and services.

Every decision we make is critical in terms of where we choose to focus our attention on, especially today. The volume of noise on the internet is only getting more and more intense and the increasing demand for our diminishing attention is driving us quite literally insane. Take a look at these metrics for our collective usage of different remote-working, video, text, chat, e-commerce, streaming, social media, music, fintech, e-learning platforms. We are now doing literally everything online and conducting all affairs online and each in a collective battle to produce greater goods and services in a more efficient, agile and automated manner.

Unfortunately, for most of us it’s impossible to completely eliminate or escape using the internet and these platforms. I am skeptical of where I see some of this heading because of the addictive nature of some of these platforms and the increasing fragmentation of the internet as well as the increasing demands of our attention and mindshare.

However, for these very reasons, as consumers, producers and users of the internet and internet-based platforms its becoming more and more important for us as humans to become very very selective of our attention because everyone is out to get it today.

And because of the convenience as well as the accelerating pace of digital transformation certainly aided by the pandemic and lockdowns as well, which is completely resizing and reshaping the future of work as many variables from when the pandemic will end to the coming of GenZ in the workplace and to the increasing adoption of digital platforms, digital and agile lifestyles and distributed/remote work adoption we need to all get used to these new dynamics because many of them are permanent for a larger share of us as entrepreneurs, employees or freelancers.

Some of the techniques I use to protect my attention include:

1. Daily Meditation and Mindfulness Practice

2. Attention Diet and Limiting the Intake of News.

Following Fewer People, Brands, and News Outlets and using minimal social media accounts. Am very careful to follow those that give me the most relevant value and “bang for my buck” in terms of time well spent. Incorporating minimalism into my digital life vastly ameliorates my mental wellbeing.

3. Using Fewer Websites, Platforms, Applications and Digital Tools to the highest extent possible, if it doesn’t solve my own problems or add value to my life.

Using the websites and following the people or brands that truly give me value and solve my own problems, make me knowledgeable in niche topics or keep me informed in the industries or areas I am fascinated in, working in or trying to establish myself in.

4. Reading Physical Hardcover Books and other activities which don’t require a screen.

Let’s be honest, we are hooked to looking at screens and our next hits of digital dopamine. The more time we spend away from screens the better.

5. Turning of Notifications on my phones or social media

6. Actively Consuming and Producing Digital content and media vs Passively.

Incorporating mindfulness into my day and into my digital practices as well allow me to become an active participant rather than some passive “user” statistic to some tech company. Being very intentional about my consumption and my production habits is critical. I believe it’s important for all of us to definitely be active consumers and if we can also be active producers, we have a more balanced equation.


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