The broad impacts of the attention economy's perverse incentives alters widespread communication patterns

[[ 2021-12-13 ]] #attention-economy #language #society

The attention economy’s perverse incentives of engagement maximization diffuses to all areas of communication. These forces aren’t just isolated to social media platforms and a few select content forms and creation formats.

It affects how we all use language to communicate with others. We are all roped into the attention grabbing arms race. If our aim is to get people to “pay attention” to content we create, whether an instagram post or an article we write for a journal, if we don’t use certain attention grabbing tactics and nuance-collapsing inflammatory click-bait titles, other people will and our content will be ignored by most minds.

This is also another reason in support of the claim that [[ the attention economy is one of the worst exploitative business practices ]]. Such market forces shift, even if only slightly, an entire society’s usage of language in the direction of polarization, outrage, lack of nuance, manipulation, etc.

“We’ve created a world in which online connection has become primary. Especially for younger generations. And yet, in that world, anytime two people connect, the only way it’s financed is through a sneaky third person who’s paying to manipulate those two people. So we’ve created an entire global generation of people who were raised within a context with the very meaning of communication, the very meaning of culture, is manipulation.” — Jaron Lainer, computer scientist and virtual reality pioneer (source)

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