Attention is the limited resource

For persons who are at an age when the word “retirement” is not irrelevant, this NY Times column strikes me as valuable: “I talked to the Cassandra of the Internet Age,”

He says, “one of the most finite resources in the world is human attention.”

Before now, I had some sense of this. If you are retired and if you are not careful, you can piss away what’s left of your life with social media.

And so I have stopped using most social media. I have not exterminated FaceBook from my machine, but that is mainly because I don’t know how to. I just don’t go on it anymore.  

Truth is, it was already getting to be that way with books. Where I grew up there was a public library, two newspapers (Tarboro Daily Southerner and Raleigh N&O), and magazines (mostly, Time, Saturday Evening Post, and American Heritage). That was it. Now, there are bookstores, used bookstores, Amazon, and Project Gutenberg. And those little free book-exchange libraries that some people put in their yards.

And, social media.

We have got to figure out how to manage the glut of almost-free information coming at us. Maybe cost is good. It assigns value. MIchael Goldhaber says

We can explore the ways in which our attention is generated, manipulated, valued, and degraded. Sometimes attention might simply be a lens through which to read the events of the moment. But it can also force us toward a better understanding of how our minds work or how we value our time and the time of others. Perhaps, just by acknowledging its presence, we can begin to direct it toward people, ideas and causes that are worthy of our precious resource.

It’s not the information that is limited anymore. It’s the attention.

If you are of a certain age, you know about limited resources. You know about conserving and marshaling resources.

“Attention is a limited resource, so pay attention to where you pay attention.”

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