If you pay attention to bullshit, your world is bullshit

February 04, 2024

I realize I didn't even proofread what I posted yesterday. It's probably not as clear as it could be, and certainly has some errors. Today will be no different. I just have to get it out at the moment, I'll refine the process as I keep doing it.

I went for a walk in the woods today as I often do, and the topic I decided to try to ramble on was "attention". Your attention is what informs your reality, and the objects of your attention become real to you. Media companies pay a lot of money to get as many eyeballs or earballs on their content because that usually correlates with more money, but it also helps them propagate and normalize certain world views (many of which are unsustainable, and dangerous).

I watched a content creator I adore do a "reaction" stream to Nancy Pelosi talking about how pro-Palestine protestors were probably being paid by Russia (utterly absurd). Pelosi is a career politician, aka a total scumbag, corrupt as they come, and perpetuating a system that requires you take money from special interests lobbyists if you want to consider being a "public servant". This content creator, let's call her Jordyn, sat there and talked shit on Nancy while Nancy muttered her inane nonsense.

Why were we giving this crooked old lady more airtime? I watched the stream along with a bunch of other progressives and I knew we could have done something more productive together than waste our time complaining about how shitty American leadership is. Instead, we could have displayed leadership by spitballing ideas about how to change things, or planning events, protests, etc.

We gave Nancy Pelosi more power in those few minutes we watched her speak because we gave her our attention. In fact, after the clip of her speaking, Jordyn contined talking about her, giving Pelosi even more relevance and power in those moments. We must take back our power as common people, starting by taking control of our attention.

Our minds are designed to focus on a single object at a time. That object can be external, in which case we're using one of our five senses to focus on that object, or the object can be internal (to the mind), in which case we're using our thoughts to focus on that object. We cannot focus on two things at once, although there's the illusion that we can because of how quickly we can switch the object of our attention.

So our attention is limited by time. The things we spend time focusing on, whether TV shows, trees, chocolate in our mouths, or our own thoughts, are the brushstrokes that paint the picture of our reality over time. If we consume content that is painful to watch, like the horrible news of atrocities being committed, it informs us, but it also shapes our moods. Sometimes it's necessary to consume that kind of content, to give it our attention, but we only need enough of that to motivate us to do something. If we feel helpless, but continue to consume that kind of thing, it ends up entrapping us in this insane world. Now of course the people of Gaza have no choice, they are trapped in that reality, and they probably try to escape it on their phones with whatever little bits of internet they try to get. They are focusing their attention elsewhere if they can because their immediate reality is so bleak.

But we who are fortunate enough to be outside of those circumstances just need to know that it's happening, and the magnitude of the horror that's unfolding, but you only need a very little bit of your attention focused on some videos to know that. Anything beyond that is probably hurting you, and getting in the way of you actively doing something to help the world.

I will keep writing about this in the future to expand on the importance of how we direct our attention, but I will leave right now with some ideas of how we can use our attention constructively. In terms of mediated content, producing and consuming uplifting content with a positive and inspiring effect is the best thing to find. It can provide comfort as well as ideas about how to be effective at changing your world, and changing THE world. Of course, you can pay attention to your family, your friends, and even to yourself, and those are all very important and constructive ways of getting back to your senses and escaping the traps of mediated reality.

Profile picture

Yazan uses this site to share his ideas on creating a sustainable future together