The Attention Economy

What is the attention economy?

By definition, the attention economy rests on the idea that attention is a scarce resource to compete for. The modern economy increasingly revolves around the human attention span and how products capture that attention. The concept most evident in the attention economy of today’s society is social media. The attention span of humans is both limited and valuable, to the point where digital experts prey off of this in order to snatch the viewers attention at any given moment. In this article, I will be exploring the main ways in which the population is taken advantage of for the benefit of the digital technology industry and what impact this is having on the productive elements of the human race.

Procrastination and the attention economy…

In an attempt to capture the attention of social media users, the goal of digital experts is to ensure that the viewer is kept constantly looking, constantly scrolling and keeping them engaged and enticed for what is to come. In October 2022, it was recorded 51% of students admit to losing at least an hour of productivity a day to social media and internet distraction. About 44% of those polled were worried about the overall quality of their work decreasing due to procrastination caused by the internet. According to the Irish Times, 20% of students chronically procrastinate as a result of social media’s push factor of distraction.

The dangers of procrastination…

Procrastinating on social media can lead to various issues, including worse academic performance, worse financial status, worse emotional well-being and worse mental and physical health. Although, it depends when and how one is procrastinating in order to determine the consequence of the action. For example, if one is scrolling through social media when they should be competing an academic assignment, this can cause them to fail an exam. However, if someone procrastinates in the workplace, this can result in them being fired. Regardless, this procrastination in either case is likely to result in a severe lack in productivity and physical impacts such as headaches or eye-strain.


Social media has consumed our attention spans through quick and instant gratification, affecting our brains’ ability to focus on anything else we feel is less interesting. Fortunately, while this issue is so widespread, there are ways to combat it. Some of the most effective ways include:

Limit your access to social media: Although you may need to utilise digital resources to complete a work assignment, try blocking social media apps from your notification centre until you have successfully completed the assigned work.

Make it harder to go on social media: Try logging out of your most used social media apps after each time you use it, and make logging back as difficult as possible (e.g. by enabling two-factor authentication and not saving jour password). Check out the “one sec” app where it is recommended to take a deep breath whenever you open social media apps. This can be extremely helpful to limit your usage of these platforms!

Minimise the triggers that you social media use: For example, you can put your phone on mute so you won’t hear new social-media notifications, or disable those notifications entirely. Similarly, you can put the icons to your favourite social-media apps in a folder away from your home screen, so you won’t see them each time you open your phone.


The attention economy is a delicate concept that is often abused by the population’s procrastination on social media. In this article, I have reflected on staggering statistics that have been recorded from studies conducted on Generation Z, in particular. This generation needs to undertake the initiative of managing their time in a more productive, responsible way and avoiding the ploys that digital experts have imposed on society to populate social media platforms even more.

Fun Fact!

The colour scheme and structural layout of this article is no coincidence! It has been psychologically proven by a theory known as “The Attention Span Plague” that the a reader is more likely to forget something if it is in black and white, in addition to this, 62-90% of a first impression of a visual piece is due to colours!


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