Photo Credit: Artwork by Banksy, London, 2015
Welcome to The Attention Economy. Our attention is being bought and sold as a commodity. We are deluged with media content/advertising Frankenstein-style hybrids such as advertainment, shoptainment, gamification and embedded commerce. And it’s nearly everywhere. At the gas pump, in bathroom stalls, in bed (wherever you bring your phone). Sure, sometimes it’s diverting but it has a cost. As a result we are in a near-constant state of react & respond.
All of this is designed to get us to focus on and interact with messaging, to respond to their “call to action” - rather than being quiet enough to connect with our own autonomous voice.
I urge you to consider…what would you think about if all of this noise wasn’t telling you what to think about? What dreams could emerge out of that deliciously empty space? What questions would you ask? What calls to action would you come up with for yourself?
Your journal is a potent ally in this process. Turn your phone on airplane mode. Give yourself the gift of being present and write or draw. Nothing to do other than just putting a pen on a page. It’s not about productivity, it’s about presence.
Maybe even let yourself be bored for a minute or two. Boredom is an incredibly rare luxury these days out of which creativity can emerge. It’s a vacuum where ideas are born. Don’t quelch it with the drug of social media. Just be in it and see where it leads you.
Want a journaling prompt to help you cultivate downtime? I got you.
If you had a day of freedom, one without any responsibilities or restrictions, what would you do? How would you spend it? Who would you spend it with? Or perhaps you would be by yourself? Maybe you need more time to do absolutely NOTHING?
No need to limit yourself to reality. Fire up your imagination. Maybe you’d go for a stroll on the moon. Or conversely you’d do your taxes to get them off your desk so you can relax. Or / and anything in between including what my friend calls a “duvet day” - when he cocoons up in bed.
Start in the morning and travel through the whole day. Doesn’t have to be written in complete sentences. Give yourself 6 minutes. Then sit back and ask yourself how’d that go? Was it difficult or fun? What did you learn that you need or want?
A photographer friend of mine recently gifted me an image from a series that he took while traveling in Myanmar in 2013. It’s deceptively striking. At first you see a simple, quotidien scene: people on a platform waiting for their train to arrive. But I realized they’re not looking at their phones because they don’t have phones (yet). They’re simply waiting, daydreaming, thinking. I’m old enough to remember what that was like. But seeing it in a photograph startled me because it was remarkably nostalgic, and the picture wasn’t taken very long ago.
Technology is developing at a pace that humanity hasn’t experienced before. Moore’s Law continues to chug along and our brains are playing catch up. John Muir famously said “We need the tonic of wildness.” These days we also need the tonic of quietness.
So for this newsletter instead of including a smattering of resources for you to click through to read / watch / hear, I’m inviting you to do less not more. I challenge you to achieve the novelty of boredom, give your brain a little space to stretch out and relax. Maybe pick up a pen and see what meets you on the page. As always, let me know how it goes and if you need any support.
Speaking of support, each month I offer a complimentary 1:1 Creative Coaching session to an individual via the AllSwell Assistance Program on a first-come, first-serve basis. No strings. No cost. So if you feel you would benefit from a personalized session but it’s beyond your means, please reach out.
Lastly, thank you for your attention and time. I appreciate you reading this and for being part of the AllSwell community.