So I was watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier for perhaps the 5th or 6th time (I need my 5.5 hours of TV per day!) and one thing rang very true — when the Swiss Scientist, Arnim Zola, who has been reduced to a computer system on tape, says that if you forcibly take peoples freedom, they rebel and fight back. People have to be willing to give their freedom willingly in order for Hydra to win.
And that’s kind of what you are describing.
The dictats of the big tech companies are for more attention which in turn equals more revenue which equals a higher stock price which equals greater wealth for the managers in charge.
That’s the capitalistic system and I’m wholly fine with that — as long as you understand it.
And because of our natural tendencies, born of thousands of years of living with others in a society — from the early caveman around the fire to a bunch of teens sharing a Snapchat story — we naturally do reciprocate with our attention, giving companies exactly what they want, and at the same time satisfying an hereditary urge to reciprocate, to check things off a to do list, to react to a stimuli.
We always pick up a ringing phone because it used to be that phone calls were expensive, and thus, if someone called, it was likely important. But we have reduced the cost of an interruption to zero — and yet the bias is still there to respond to the stimulus.
The unfortunate truth is that for many, this new normal IS time well spent — as they know of nothing else.
If we know and understand all of the forces pulling on us to pull out the phone and check for validation (and that’s what we are really check for isn’t it? how many photos we are tagged in, how many people liked our Facebook post, who is sending us e-mail, etc….) then we can choose how to interact with these services. It is up to our own free will how to spend our time.
Just as we all (or mostly all) know for certain that eating junk food and not exercising will make us obese — it is still up to our own free will whether or not to eat two slices of buffalo chicken pizza at 9 pm (I’m guilty and feel like crap for doing it)
The scary thing is that many people simply do not know there is an alternative.