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Health and Sanity

Valentina Nicolae
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piqer: Valentina Nicolae
Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Our Mental Space, Under Attack

If you haven’t yet decided what your resolutions for the new year will be, this podcast can provide some real food for thought. This episode focuses on our attention, on the fact that it is a very valuable asset, and on the strategies used by the media to harvest it. I find the choice of words here very important because of its agricultural connotations. A farmer would never give away his harvest for free, so that someone else can sell it and get rich. But that’s exactly what we’re doing. Companies like Google or Facebook harvest our attention, by keeping us scrolling through the news feed for hours on end, then analyze the data and sell it to advertisers. So why do we give our attention away?

To better understand that, Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, who wrote the book The Attention Merchants, gives us an overview on the evolution of media and advertising and the impact it had on our lives. From the early days of newspapers running fake news, to the radio around which families would gather, through the television era that gave us the first viral video — Elvis playing on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 — to attention-grabbing experiments like BuzzFeed and the cacophony of devices that call for our attention 24/7, the very concepts of self-control and of individual freedom have changed. 

Our Mental Space, Under Attack
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