Facebook, the Google products, LinkedIn, candy crush, a myriad of other things on the internet can be used without paying for them.Still, it takes a lot of time, effort and money to program something that makes three similar pieces of candy disappear when they line up. That money has to come from somewhere and it’s not from the users.
Those search results or that cat video are a means to an end, a way of getting you to look in the direction the company wants you. So that next to the cat falling off of the table, they can put advertisement. And the more information you give them (by liking stuff, by doing more searches), the better they can profile you (they used to do that to serial killers…) and give you advertisements that have a higher chance of you actually clicking on them.
The way these businesses work is that they sell your attention to the highest bidder.
I don’t like it, but it’s reality. And I don’t dislike it enough to actually pay for my e-mail client or anything like that (instead I have a good add-blocker). Also, it’s not the main point of this post.
The main point is that they are in a continuous struggle to get as much of your attention as possible. This means funnier cat movies, more controversial stories, more addictive games. And with so much money riding on it you can be sure that they’ll find new an innovative ways of hijacking our attention centers. I know, because they most certainly got to me…
I wrote about this in two previous posts, the first on doing away with (internet) television series, the second about stopping myself from doing mindless surfing and checking my messages / mail a million times per day.
This behavior created short-term contentment, but it was the contentment of a heroine addict that just got his shot. It’s not that you feel good per-se, it’s that you stop feeling bad. And it most certainly doesn’t bring long-term happiness.
It’s been a month since I stopped watching series, a bit less since I put a serious clamp on my internet. The result so far: I’ve been bored!
Instead of random “entertainment”, I’ve been reading more (in the bed I get into early). Books can still be addictive, but they are much much easier to put away; books happen in the mind and don’t have the constant bombardment of moving images which our brains are primed to pay attention to. The result, I get tired and go to sleep.
Finally, I’ve been planning my evenings a lot more, making time to go to the gym and setting up time to hang out with friends. Things that really do make me happier.
Attention is the current economy’s scarce resource. Don’t spend it all in one place!
I’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.
I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!