The Attention Economy

Regain digital control; Alleviate perpetual distraction

Roland Sankara
4 min readFeb 28, 2023
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Do you or do you not know that in this day and age — the “digital age”, our attention is one of the world’s most valuable commodities and resources?

As a matter of fact, our attention is so valuable that tech giants compete, spend, and invest lots and lots of money to capture it.

I somehow assume that you already know something about this, really.

Nonetheless, I believe it's worth sharing so as to help inform you, especially on how best to regain digital control and alleviate perpetual distraction.

What's the Attention Economy?

The attention economy is a concept that describes the economic value created by people’s attention or engagement with media, content, or other stimuli.

It’s based on the idea that attention is a limited resource, and therefore, the ability to capture and hold someone’s attention is extremely valuable.

In the digital age, companies and individuals are constantly competing for attention in an increasingly crowded marketplace. This competition has led to the development of new strategies and technologies for capturing and retaining attention, such as social media AI-powered algorithms, and addictive app design.

Sounds scary… right?? Eeeiiish…. if you didn’t know, now you do.

So what are the consequences??

The attention economy has contributed to a culture of distraction and as a result, many of us have suffered the consequences namely;

  1. Enslavement to AI-powered Algorithms:
    AI-powered algorithms are designed to learn from our behavior and preferences and to use that information to deliver personalized content and recommendations.
    While this can be convenient and useful in many cases, it can also have a downside: we can become enslaved to these algorithms, relying on them to make decisions for us and shaping our behavior and preferences in ways that we may not even be aware of.
    One of the biggest risks of being enslaved to AI-powered algorithms is that we can become trapped in filter bubbles and other forms of information silos. Because these algorithms are designed to show us content that is most likely to keep us engaged and interested, they also indirectly reinforce our existing biases and beliefs and limit our exposure to diverse perspectives and viewpoints.
  2. A decline in productivity.
    The addictive app design implementations in our Apps keep us engaged and focused on our devices, and can be very effective at capturing and holding our attention. This can lead to a decline in productivity, social isolation, and other negative consequences.
  3. Issues of Data Privacy
    “If it’s free, you are the product” is a common saying that is often used to describe the business model of many online platforms and services. The idea behind this saying is that many companies offer their products and services for free, but in exchange, they collect data on their users and use that data to sell targeted advertising or other products and services.
    Users are usually not aware of the data that is being collected on them, or how it is being used, and they may not have control over how their data is shared or sold.

How to regain digital control

The technology we use indirectly controls us. It’s therefore important to be intentional about regaining control. Here are some tips on how you can do so:

  1. Establish a routine: Setting a routine for our online activities can help us create structure and order in our day, and can also help us avoid getting distracted by random stimuli. For example, we might set aside specific times of day for checking email or social media, and avoid doing these activities outside of those designated times.
  2. Practice self-discipline: Protecting our attention requires a certain amount of self-discipline and willpower. We can cultivate these qualities by setting clear goals and priorities, establishing good habits and routines, and avoiding temptations that are likely to distract us.
  3. Create a distraction-free environment: We can create a distraction-free environment by minimizing external stimuli and creating a space that is conducive to focus and concentration. This might involve turning off notifications on our devices, working in a quiet and well-lit space, or using noise-canceling headphones to block out background noise. By creating an environment that supports our attention and focus, we can be more effective and productive in our online activities.
  4. Protect our privacy and security online: it’s important to be aware of the ways in which our data is being collected and used and to take steps to limit our exposure and protect our personal information. This might involve using ad blockers or privacy tools, limiting the amount of personal information that we share online, and being mindful of the privacy policies and terms of service of the platforms and services that we use.

With these tips, I believe you and I can regain our control while using the social media and the internet.

I hope you found this helpful, let me know of your thoughts in the comments section.

For more information, check out these great resources — I found them very helpful.




Roland Sankara

Fullstack Web Developer | Technical Writer | Passionate about tech mentorship