Your Mind is Being Fracked

Ezra Klein‘s episode this week with D. Graham Burnett had a good analogy for the current state of the attention economy, fracking for oil once the easier reserves are exhausted:

The only way you can get the remaining petroleum and natural gas resources out of the deep earth is to pump down in there high pressure, high volume detergent, which forces up to the surface this kind of slurry, mixture of natural gas, crude oil, leftover detergent, and juice and nasty stuff, which you then separate out, and you get your monetizable crude.

This is a precise analogy to what’s happening to us in our contemporary attention economy. We have a, depending on who you ask, $500 billion, $3 trillion, $7 trillion industry, which, to get the money value of our attention out of us, is continuously pumping into our faces high-pressure, high-value detergent in the form of social media and non-stop content that holds us on our devices. And that pumping brings to the surface that spume, that foam of our attention, which can be aggregated and sold off to the highest bidder.

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