“A simple act of paying attention can take you a long long way”
By far our greatest resource is our attention and our attention is a very limited resource.
There are two ways we experience this resource. Either proactively like when we are focused on the things that matter and on subjects, people and goals that we’d like to achieve or the other way. The other experience is reactive attention. You hear a scream. While you might not look, chances are that a blood curdling scream got your attention.
The key is that successful people control their attention by controlling their environments. They guard against the negative programming of the society. Think about how quiet and ad free the environments of the rich are. Think about country clubs, first class air travel, rich houses and the neighbourhoods they reside in, and dark tinted limousines. Unlikely they would be bombarded with adverts for every imaginable product. I bet the back of their hotel key isn’t an advertisement for the pizza place down the street. And what do they do in these calm distraction free environments? They sit in quiet serene environments considering how better to snatch our most precious resource and manipulate our behaviour -of course!
Meanwhile the rest of us are captives of their attention getting propaganda, programs and technologies. We can’t help, but be distracted by the colours on the big screen in the cafe. As a result of our highly contrived public environments we flit from task to task as the external environment changes. This is important because where our attention goes, our energy flows. We put our efforts, ideas, thoughts in line with whatever we attend to. Media and advertisers are attention robbers. They pump sounds into our ears, smells into our noses, project colours and images specifically designed to grab our attention. Because they are far away we allow it. But, imagine for a second if all of these distractions were not originating from some invisible multitude of corporations, but instead these distractions were all the workings of a single person. If you experienced such an obnoxious, disruptive and rude individual chances are you would reject them completely.
That is not the case. We accept our public environments being decimated by corporate mind controllers. We rejoice at the prospect of being able to carry a personal ad screen (phone or tablet) that tracks our every activity. We placidly accept attention robbers in our life when they are invisible corporations.
Recently, I’ve been pondering around a discussion of a new human right. A solution, if you will, to this attention crisis we find ourselves in. The new right is ‘the right not to be addressed‘. All other fragile resources are protected. Our water or our air quality. What about our most precious resource – our attention? Why do we have no say in how our public spaces impact this delicate quality? Even the best set of headphones, the thickest paper back book, and the darkest glasses aren’t enough to protect you from attention robbers. Most personal measures are simply ineffective. Ultimately, premeditated attention theft is a collective question. Why have we allowed economic interests to lay waste to our public environments? Making them a mind-field for immature minds. What gives any corporation the right to preach to you with high tech, highly focused, sophisticated behaviour manipulating signals without your express permission?
Perhaps its time we retract the permission we never gave them.
What do you think?