Another dot in the blogosphere?

Your attention, please!

Posted on: July 15, 2021

Getting attention is important, but it is not the be all and end all.

Newspapers draw attention with their headlines so that people might then read the articles. YouTubers select or create thumbnails that get the attention of their audiences so that videos get views. Teachers use hooks to pique curiosity or create cognitive dissonance so that students pay attention for the rest of the lesson.

Just about everyone needs someone else to pay attention for at least a short while. While the first group talks, the second needs to listen long enough to do something.

But what if the first group seeks attention for its own sake? Newspapers might resort to clickbait to worthless articles, YouTubers might use thumbnails that misrepresent their videos, and teachers might nurture students who depend on extrinsic stimulation.

Video source

I borrow a quote from John Green in the video above:

Saying the stupidest possible thing in the loudest possible way… is not a good way to organise the attention economy. 

The sort of attention-seeking I described contributes to the attention economy. Just because something like clickbait is supplied does not mean that we have to create demand by biting. We need to be smarter than that.

In the world of schooling and education, we need to nurture students who are smarter than Pavlovian dogs who only respond to external stimuli. We need to create independent and curious learners. We start by not selling them solely on the attention economy.

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