The Attention Arms Race

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google have produced amazing products that have benefited the world enormously. But these companies are also caught in a zero-sum race for our finite attention, which they need to make money. Constantly forced to outperform their competitors, they must use increasingly persuasive techniques to keep us glued. They point AI-driven news feeds, content, and notifications at our minds, continually learning how to hook us more deeply—from our own behavior.

Unfortunately, what's best for capturing our attention isn't best for our well-being:

  • Snapchat turns conversations into streaks, redefining how our children measure friendship.
  • Instagram glorifies the picture-perfect life, eroding our self worth.
  • Facebook segregates us into echo chambers, fragmenting our communities.
  • YouTube autoplays the next perfect video, even if it eats into our sleep.

These are not neutral products.
They are part of a system designed to addict us.


Folksonomies: attention focus distraction denial of service

/health and fitness/addiction (0.577446)
/technology and computing/internet technology/social network (0.483306)
/news (0.469145)

Arms Race Facebook (0.949517 (:0.000000)), increasingly persuasive techniques (0.861030 (:0.000000)), children measure friendship (0.735032 (:0.000000)), Facebook segregates (0.540142 (:0.000000)), finite attention (0.537253 (:0.000000)), zero-sum race (0.488855 (:0.000000)), amazing products (0.477900 (:0.000000)), neutral products.They (0.423474 (:0.000000)), AI-driven news (0.410622 (:0.000000)), echo chambers (0.408232 (:0.000000)), picture-perfect life (0.382926 (:0.000000)), self worth (0.381588 (:0.000000)), perfect video (0.380271 (:0.000000))

Facebook:Company (0.857463 (:0.000000)), Instagram:Company (0.715751 (:0.000000)), Twitter:Company (0.556846 (:0.000000)), Google:Company (0.528210 (:0.000000)), YouTube:Company (0.438466 (:0.000000)), Snapchat:Person (0.414476 (:0.000000))

Psychology (0.963946): dbpedia_resource
Motivation (0.594002): dbpedia_resource
Google (0.534478): dbpedia_resource
Measure (0.533048): dbpedia_resource
Web feed (0.529137): dbpedia_resource
Social network service (0.510266): dbpedia_resource

 Time Well Spent
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Various, (2017), Time Well Spent, Retrieved on 2017-11-21
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: attention focus distraction