Whoever Owns your Attention, Owns You.


Tim Wu wrote a book called “The Attention Merchants”— a fascinating expose on social media companies, and how everyone is fighting for your attention, eye balls, and dollars.

To me, I have always had a hard time focusing. Even when I was a kid, I was diagnosed with mild dyslexia. I had a hard time reading, and like any kid, had trouble sitting down and listening to teachers.

I realized as I got older, the internet, technology, video games — all became a drug for me. To me, it would satisfy my wavering attention, and I would be controlled by my computer, devices, and by blinking lights.

I’ve always been a technology skeptic. While I love technology, I know it has personally wrecked havoc on my own mind. I used to get anxiety in the evenings before I slept, if I wasn’t able to achieve “Inbox Zero”. I would probably refresh my Gmail 200 times a day, and check my phone close to 500 times a day. The only time I wasn’t glued to my phone was when I was taking a shower…but now that might change that we have waterproof phones.

Anyways, in today’s world, whoever owns your attention, owns you.

Unfortunately, the majority of the world economy online is through advertising. Google Adsense (banner ads, YouTube ads), Facebook Ads, etc. Everyone is trying to sell you something, including me. I secretly want you to attend my workshops, buy my products, books, and spread the gospel of ERIC KIM. We all have something selfish for ourselves, including photography bloggers (any website with an affiliate link to a product cannot be trusted 100% for an honest review).

Anyways, it is scary how much personal data these big companies collect on you. Google scans all of your Gmail, records all of your search queries into Google, your movements on Google Maps, your YouTube watching behavior, etc.

The same goes with Facebook, with unlimited access to your Facebook messenger conversations, some access to What’s App (Facebook bought out What’s App), access to your Instagram behavior (they bought Instagram too), and the amount of information they have on you is scary. They know your political beliefs, your personal relationships,,,all to sell you more “targeted” advertising.

Be a skeptic. Anything that you use for “free” has a hidden catch somewhere. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

I value my attention a lot. Why? Because once I lose my attention, it is hard as fuck for me to refocus and get back on track.

Here are some things that I do in my life to regain focus:

  1. No phone: Probably the best life hack…is what technology to SUBTRACT from your life to focus.
  2. Of course don’t be crazy like me. Do my less extreme prescription: everyday try to uninstall one app from your phone, laptop, or tablet. This helps you focus.
  3. Install advertising blockers on your browsers. I personally use Adblock Ultimate and 1 Blocker, and the “Purity” Safari advertising blocker for my iPad.
  4. Minimize use of Facebook and Google products: They have great products, but once again…if the services are free, you are getting suckered somewhere. Generally you exchange your personal information, to get advertised to, for tools and services. This is good if you are poor, but a poor trade if you have disposable income.

Ultimately, I’m not telling you to burn your phones. Just spend more time in airplane mode, spend less time distracted online, and just focus on what is important to you.

For greater insights read “Attention Merchants” by Tim Wu, and any book by Nicholas Carr, another technology critic.