Should the Attention Economy be Regulated?

The red notification indicator on our favorite apps, the “like” button, the downward refresh-feed sweep, all of these things are the backbone of what is now being referred to as, the “attention economy.” This new economy drives our national discourse, which is very reactionary, and has partly-created the dreaded feedback loop that drives social media interaction. At best, these queues let us know when grandma likes our most recent brain fart, but on the other hand, it has enabled an attention-seeking reality TV star to become a president. The Guardian has a nice article on the impact of the attention economy here, which is well worth reading. It discusses the dangers of this new economy and how it came to be. It also highlights what some of the well-meaning tech gurus responsible for the habit-forming queues we’ve grown to rely upon are doing to pull away from their own inventions, recognizing that they are dangerous. Ironically enough, like most monsters, it’s creation didn’t come from a place of bad-intention. And maybe it can be reeled in before things get even more out of hand. The question we might need to begin asking is, if drugs, alcohol and tobacco can be legislated and regulated, can code, and the application of it be as well? And if this is asking too much, those that are paying attention might need to deactivate a few things.