PBS wants you to donate. The FDNY wants you to honor them. Pepsi wants you to drink it. McDonalds wants you to eat it. Chipotle wants you to eat it, but it also wants you to know that it is not McDonalds. Dr. Zizmore wants you to look at yourself and see how much better you could be if you went to him. BMCC wants you to enroll, and bring your baby with you.
We are out here giving our time, energy and attention away to ideals that most likely do not apply to our personal life. Our attention span is not getting smaller, it’s just that there is only so much of it to go around.
When mentally exhausted from just our daily commute, we turn to our phones for a break, where we meet demands from literally everyone and their mothers. To know and interact with hundreds of acquaintances, from their daily life, the things they like, the way they feel and even the way people we don’t even know feel about these contacts, is a bit much. The fact that this is how we escape is preposterous. The fact that many of us have become so addicted to escaping the present that we do so by getting stuck in someone else’s past is even crazier.
When we look down at our phones, at least we choose what we see, who we are friends with and who we follow. With the exception of ads, of course (they choose you). If you gave your audio permissions away to the social media apps on your mobile tracking device then your phone is most likely listening in for key ad words. Even our escape is another version of the thing we are trying so desperately to get away from.
If you attend an event, and you take a picture and post it with the hashtag of the marketing campaign that designed the event, you get the free thing. This thing is often times more free advertising, such as a shirt, a cup, a pin, etc.
Welcome to the world of experimental marketing, where they make sure you fucking look at them. Where they take something that you love to do, make it their own, tell you it’s free and make sure that you know why. They know that our attention is limited, they know that we are becoming dull and tired so they offer us free experiences for the chance to be the only brand in our face for that period of time.
Try to think how many times during a day you are solely thinking about yourself. For what baby boomers call the most selfish generation, I’d say not much, with the exception of the occasional selfie. And even then, we have to question why we are posting what we post. Is it really our own? I admire artists who never go to galleries and musicians who aren’t music snobs for this very reason. It’s like when pregnant women put headphones on their stomachs. The baby doesn’t know what it’s listening to, but it will also never know that listening to Enya while in the womb is one of the reasons why it decided to become a monk.
Their trick is to either take things that you have become conditioned to not live without and make you pay for them or create a new need, offer it for free, and then charge you for it once you are hooked. Our new need is attention and experience. Our attention span isn’t small or limited, it is being taken without our consent. We are a generation of renaissance people. No other generation has been as sympathetic, strong, articulate, artistic and diverse as ours. And I hope that the generation that comes after is even stronger, more expressive, artistic and diverse than ours.
Maybe I’ll pay $100 for an hour of silence in a chamber of salts and water. That should clear my head. Peace and silence have become so rare that in the future none of us would mind paying for air.
“Your diet isn’t always what you eat, it’s what you watch it’s what you listen to, so I’m mindful of what I ingest, and so there was basically nothing there that was feeding me. I have a computer, that’s enough there I can pick and choose what’s feeding me. I didn’t have a TV because I wasn’t trying to be fed by that. The same way some people don’t eat meat. It’s about minding my diet.” – Saul Williams