The Attention Curve

Millenials embrace the Internet—not just for our work or entertainment, but for our lifestyles. For us, the Internet is not a tool but a way of life. Increasingly, we have organized our lives around the Internet.

The Internet is flashy. But outside of the Internet—the best things in life tend not to be Fararis but friendships. Not Mazaratis, but moments. Shiny objects in life seem attractive, but they lack the deeper meaning that we’re looking for.

Internet-based companies don’t deliver deeper meaning to our lives. Just shiny pieces of “content.”

CUNY media theorist Douglas Rushkoff puts it best:

The Internet is really just the technological front on a whole series of business plans that are looking to extract money from us, time from us, attention from us, and if we have none of those things, at least data from us.

The most valuable thing we have is our time.

We can spend it. We can save it. We can invest it. We can give it.

It can be stolen from us.

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media sites have been designed to optimize the amount of time we spend within their ecosystems. The more time consumers spend inside their ecosystems, the more consumer data that can be extracted and the more advertisements that can be sold.

Over time, social media firms have successfully captured a large part of our days. The chart below from eMarketer tells the depressing story of the increase in Americans social media use over time.

social-media-time-attention

I predict that Millenials will eventually become fed up with wasting their days in front of their mobile phone screens and there will be a mass exodus from social media sites. While my forecast is not grounded in data, it is difficult to believe that social media use will not hit a critical point where people realize how much of their lives is being stolen from them.

This is the attention curve. Over the past decade, social media has slowly taken more and more of the attention of Millenials. At some point in the future, the amount of time Millenials spend on social media will hit a maximum and begin to decrease.

At least that is the hope.