Let’s be honest. As you’re reading this, what else is happening in the background? Is Netflix or Hulu on? Is there a podcast playing? Are you thinking about exiting this page to open any of the many social media apps? Are you thinking of what to order online?
The world - the digital world at least - is quite literally in the palm of our hands and fingertips. With everything in this world comes the feeling of instant gratification. But at the cost of our time. Your social media notification, the email ping, the next TikTok video - all of a sudden you’ve lost hours of your day. You could have spent hours catching up with family, and friends, reading a book from your to-read list or completing literally anything else.
To be completely fair, it’s not our fault that we find ourselves distracted and engaged with our devices - television, cellphones, tablets, computers, etc. We constantly have something telling us “hey, look at me!” “Hello! Check me out!” “you have an unread notification!”. It casts a sense of urgency on us to constantly be checked in. That’s what we call the attention economy.
Anything can be monetized these days, including our attention. And when we spend an average of 7 hours per day online, it makes sense that a ton of marketing and advertising efforts continue to be pushed online, on the places and sites we spend our time. The global digital advertising market in 2022 was valued at $572 billion, where 63% of the overall expenditure was spent on digital media ads across any device with access to an internet connection.
The sites and apps we find ourselves spending so much time on, like Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc, profit from these ads and profit the more hours we spend on their platforms.
Now enter the attention economy. An economy where our attention is the product. And even when we aren’t spending our own money on these sites, we provide our attention, which is a very valuable resource. With the fast-paced digital environment that exists today, the competition to hold our attention for longer periods is strong. We’ve all been in that situation, where we open Instagram - or whichever app you prefer - scroll for a few minutes, close it, open up another app, scroll for a few minutes, close it, then open Instagram back up again. It can feel like an endless cycle sometimes. But even so, the 7 hours we spend online means something is working, something is keeping us there.
The ‘something’ that’s keeping us there can range from clickbait articles and posts, the infinite scroll mechanism, auto-playing videos, endless notifications and icons, and more. These are all methods to keep us attentive to our devices and their apps. And we already know, that when we’re online, we’re being tracked, meaning the more we use our devices, the more targeted and personalized recommendations and ads become.
It can seem bleak and impossible to avoid. But in actuality, it is possible to resist the attention economy. It will require practice and patience while you remove distractions and learn how to do nothing, while not feeling like you’re missing out on all of the things waiting for you on your device. At times you will naturally reach for your phone but again it’s all about practice and patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day! And those 7 hours won’t be reduced to 1 hour in a day.
In order to stay focused on your journey of doing nothing, there are a few things you can start out with, see if they resonate with you, and then implement them as part of your daily routine.
One major power you hold over the attention economy is the power to check out on your time by shutting down and turning off your devices. When you shut off from the digital world you can stay focused on what’s happening in your day, in your world. Not in the days and worlds of other people's lives on the internet. Try it for 1-2 hours a day and see how you feel.
If turning off your devices isn’t the way you want to start this journey, that’s totally fine. Try starting a new hobby that requires your full attention. Like going to a workout class, participating in a pottery workshop, cooking a meal, learning how to make a new dessert, reading a book, and taking a walk everyday. Anything that keeps your hands and minds distracted from your devices.
Think about the things in your life, in your day-to-day life that requires and deserve your attention. Spending quality time with your family, catching up with your friends, and visiting your favorite coffee shop and barista. Do you want to experience these things in real-time or catch their updates online? Try BlockSite’s Schedule feature that helps you block all distractions during the select hours you choose, so you can better focus on what’s important to you.
Take the pressure off of yourself to not visit those distracting websites and apps. We’re so used to it, that it’s so natural to open a new tab, or app, and visit Facebook or Twitter. Let BlockSite help you with our features designed to navigate these challenges. With BlockSite, you can block any and all websites and apps that you choose and even select when you want to be able to access them again.
Doing nothing in the age of the attention economy can seem like an intimidating task. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone.