It’s not about data, it’s about attention.

Most people believe that facebook is selling data to advertisers, and this not true, at least not for small non-governmental advertisers.

What facebook is selling is our attention not our data. Facebook uses our data to help match the us to the right products (ads), but it does not actually sell it (our data).

Let’s say I use a feed blocker browser extension, will facebook still make money out of me ? No !! Because I won’t see ads, they won’t be able to ship my attention to their clients (advertisers).

Once again, social media, and media in general are selling our attention not our data !! And this is why they are trying to keep us connected for as many hours as possible, and this is why 1M views is better than 1K views in social media.

It’s not about time, it’s about attention.

Time is money! Isn’t it ?

Your time is as valuable as the amount of attention you direct towards consuming it. Have you ever seen someone getting payed for his/her sleep time? We pay and get payed for our attention not for our time.

Maybe this is the source for the English idiom “pay attention”.

Paying attention is an exercise

Paying attention is hard, it consumes some brain electrical power. And the longer we have to pay attention, the harder it is for our brains.

But, fortunately our brains are highly adaptive and can learn to pay attention for longer periods (called attention spans). Paying attention for longer periods will train our brains to pay attention for even longer periods.

Social media ~ Fast Food for attention

Consuming social media is analogous of consuming sugar and fast food. It is easy to consume, rewarding and highly addictive!

What social media is doing, is feeding our attention with small doses of information (posts, notifications …), gratifying our “need to know” and capturing our attention over small and repetitive cycles. These cycles trigger the addiction and diminish the attention spans.

Short attention spans can be dangerous

Attention spans are not just about attention and focus.

Having a shorter attention span can affect the way we feel. It can make our mood unsteady, and volatile.

Sometimes one post in my news feed can change my mood entirely, and then the post just below can undo the effect. And this is so dangerous (at least for me).

Attention is our most valuable asset. If you are not sure to whom you should pay it, just allow yourself to get bored!

My experience

Years ago, I spent almost two years without social media and with minimal access to the Internet.

This had a drastic effect on my attention span. I was finally able to feel bored again! And I got to enjoy small and slow thing again.

My mood was so steady and I was resilient to sudden mood changes. I was able to enjoy long process and get satisfied by achieving long-term goals.

And most importantly, I started to enjoy nature, conversation, watching movies (This is so important to me, and one of the main reasons I am considering leaving social media).