In the last 7 habits I’ve explained ways to reduce our environmental impact by reducing the amount we consume and improving the quality of what we do consume. Up to this point I’ve only touched on physical, tangible products but in this piece I’ll talk about a less tangible aspect of conscious consumption: Tip #9: Consciously consume digital media.

Attention is Money

The more time we spend on a website like Facebook, the more valuable their ad space becomes. Because of this new currency, apps and websites are being optimized to keep us coming back. Facebook used to just be a platform to check the relationship status of college peers, now many use it to get their daily news and our “wall” adapts to our preferences.

A better experience = more time on the fb = higher ad revenue. And it’s working. The average user spends 50 minutes on Facebook… each day, up from 40 minutes in 2014.

So what’s the big deal?

Spend it Wisely

Because our attention is money, we can choose to vote with it just as we vote with our wallets when we shop for products at the store.

There are two questions to ponder:

  1. What could you be doing with the time you would save from not sticking your face in your phone?
  2. Are you giving your attention to things that matter?

I’ve found that by simply muting many of my notifications I open apps less and save a ton of my time. Instead of checking my phone every time it pings then inevitably getting lost in a stream of kitten videos on Instagram, I try to only check my SM apps a couple times a day.

As far as I can tell,  the world is still spinning.

Now that you’ve saved yourself potentially an hour each day, what do you plan to do with your time? I’ve found it fulfilling to donate some of my newfound attention to the things I wish I had more time for. Like actually reading the interesting articles I bookmarked and then totally forgot about.

The benefit of investing time into actually following campaigns that have a positive impact, reading up on environmental news, or listening to an informative podcast are two fold. 1) You’re learning about things that will make you a more informed citizen and 2) The fact that you’re dedicating your precious attention to these things gives them value.

Your Action Item

Turn off your notifications. Choose a couple apps that you know have been demanding your attention, go into your settings, and set your notifications on silent. (Don’t worry, you can still check your apps… they just won’t be nagging at you throughout the day)

Reallocate your time to education about an environmental issue you’re interested in.


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Attention is Money

Raw Data is a podcast produced by the Stanford Cyber Initiative that covers topics related to big data and tech. This episode digs into “the never-ending, epic battle to catch – and keep – your attention” that is happening on the internet.

Facebook Wants More

This is an interesting NY Times article about the time we spend on Facebook, how it correlates to ad revenue for the company, and how FB is growing.

What Percentage of People Get Their News from Facebook

This article clarifies the commonly quoted “44% of Americans get their news from Facebook”. In fact, more like 18% of Americans regularly get their news from Facebook, but still, it’s quite a few and the number is growing.

Our Time on Smartphones

This brief Huffington Post article about how much we use our phones is … a little scary.

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