Thursday, July 2, 2020
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Fight for attention

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Since the lockdown has been imposed, a surge is being seen—rather overt and pretentious at times, in awakening the creativity within us everyone. On the surface and if done with the good spirit it’s beautiful and while this curse of a virus is hanging upon us, the refuge to find the hiding self is not a bad idea at all. However, when one goes to a level deeper into this social narrative we have built, the beauty of it seems to fade away a little. To put time into our creativity, one needs to pay attention, and that itself is in attack today.

It’s a brutal fight, of one’s attention, in this time of technological advancements, when every single device, application, is seeking our attention. It would have been better if they would just seek, but no, they scream for it—literally, by beeping and ringing now and then. And we humans are losing this fight, to them. I wouldn’t put all the blame to us, humans, we are poor creatures who don’t have any idea how to deal with so many stimuli around us, as evolution didn’t prepare us for this, it’s a newer threat to our mental health and attention which needs a conscious, scientific and rational approach to deal with. Here our instincts would fail us and are failing us every single day.

I am not picking the obvious villain here, the psychological implications of the advancements in technology when seen in a social context is quite disturbing. The fact that the people who are helping to make these applications are well versed in the science behind attention should make us think more about this issue. It wouldn’t be wrong to say, that the only thing your phone wants from you is for you to use it every second of the day. Every update, new features, which seems to give us more, actually can be seen as taking something more from us.

Now that we have established the expectations of your phone, and every single device around us—which is quite perverse if you try to understand the situation here, the next thing is to decide and choose if to give in to that expectation or not. And that’s where one has to consciously attend, our attentional resources, to divide them where we should and where not to.

To not go into the deep science behind attention, which is not important when it comes to having the ability to use it wisely, the first thing we should do is to know and be aware of the things around us which are seeking our attention. The fact that we are so much used to spend hours and hours of our time and attention watching random videos on our phone—which has no artistic value to it, tells us that we are not paying as much attention as to how our attention is being used every day. And nobody is immune to it, we all do it, at different degrees, so it’s important to know at what degree we do it and try to reduce that degree as much as possible. Conversely, to not paint everything as black, I must address how the advancements in technology have its utilities, which wouldn’t have been possible if we as civilization didn’t move on to build the system that we have built. So, this is not a diss to one of the major achievements in the history of mankind, but a concern that we don’t let it control us, and not let it steer us away from our goals but help to achieve them.

If our attention is so volatile, then how is this narrative of creativity has found its way into this ecosystem where everything around us is seeking our attention? It came out of our very idea of free will where we humans tend to believe that we are in control of our lives, but maybe we aren’t in these times, as much as we like to think that we are. This will of us humans is worth a pat on the back, but just having the intrinsic motivation here wouldn’t help, if we don’t consciously try to manipulate the other variables here. And the other variables are nothing but that every other thing which breaths on our attention, so to be pumped up about finding our selves, by watching videos of celebrities is good, but not enough, until and unless we put the same video at rest and do that by ourselves.

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