How Attention Hacking Makes You A Consumer Slave
We live in the attention economy. Companies buy and sell human time. Your attention is gold and whether you are aware of it or not, there is a big fight for it. You are chronically exposed to advertisements, announcements, publicity, news, social media feed, and irresistible promises of free gifts. Every app you download on your phone is a business plan you invite in your life. You are under attack.
Companies dictate your future spending behaviour
Big companies hire experts, pick the best brains available and invest in research to refine their strategies. They are fiercely fighting for your eye ball. And once they catch you, they trigger in your brain noradrenaline and dopamine, hormones which enhance focus and excitement. The result? You buy their products. You feel kind of compelled to buy and you do not even realise it. Companies do not want you to think, they want you to buy. They appeal to your reptilian brain bypassing altogether your pre-frontal cortex. They use sophisticated algorithms to analyse your past behaviour not just to predict your future behaviour, but to influence and determine it.
Hyper-vigilance is stressful
This is not just bad for your pocket; the worst thing is: it generates chronic stress. A state of hyper-vigilance and sympathetic nervous system activation, is associated with elevated cortisol level. As you might know, cortisol is the stress hormone. It has been proven that chronic high level of cortisol, literally makes you fat and stupid by atrophying your hippocampus, and by accumulating fat storage around your belly.
How to protect yourself
Now this is a pretty heinous scenario. So what can you do to protect yourself from the attention suckers? The best advice I can give you is: become aware of it. Do not take this for granted. We are so immersed in the game that it is far too easy to go unconscious and forgetful. You need to consciously protect ourselves. Here are few practical actions you can implement straight away that will save you tons of energy:
- Scale down on social media
- Check your phone only when necessary
- Do not ready free papers on public transport. Best is to listen to your favourite music, or a podcast. Or even better be silent and practice awareness
- Do not look at the flashy advs on the escalator when you emerge from the tube
- When walking on the street avoid being distracted by images and advs. Better keep focused on what matters to you most in that moment
Meditation is the key
Apart from the above, the most effective strategy of all to protect yourself is meditation. Why? Because during meditation you shut down your links with the external world. You disengage your senses and naturally the energy that normally goes outwards is diverted inside. During meditation, you do not allow intruders to hack your attention. In addition, as you progress in your meditation practice, you will be able to generate abundant energy. Slowly the mind calms down and in those gaps of utter silence, your whole body/mind is recharged with clean, pure, fresh energy. And even more exciting, you can learn how to direct this new energy for healing, repairing, rejuvenation and creativity.
- become aware of attention suckers
- take practical action to protect yourself during your daily life
- meditate and grow your energy inside
If you follow these simple set of advices, you will feel like a new person: energetic, lively, vibrant and ultimately happy. And you will be richer: you will stop buying lots of unnecessary things!
This article appears with permission from Swami Swaram, and first appeared on his blog at his website’s London organisation, which is: