Yesterday, after a hard day of work, I was laying on my couch, as usual, scrolling through my Instagram feed. As the hours passed (don’t judge me please), I started to realize something that everybody else already knows, and is pretty much upset about.
The fact that every 3rd post is a paid advertisement either showing as an ad or disguising itself as a blog post by some influencer, is pretty upsetting. But I realized something else, that I wasn’t aware of until then.
If we look at ads and the history of advertisement, then it all started with newspapers in the 19th century. After the invention of the radio, soon ad’s started to flood the radio stations, and after that the TV industry. When the Internet came along, ads found their way onto our PC’s as well. And now we are living in an era, where for the first time, we are not the consumers of ads, but the creators. And no, I don’t mean Influencers advertising a product or a service. I mean you.
When was the last time, you posted a picture or a video about something on any kind of platform? Was it a meal? Was it about your latest trip to some distant land? Was it a simple selfie with a friend that you haven’t seen in a long while? Whatever it was, it’s nothing else, but an ad about you for others.
Think about it for a second. We are trying so desperately these days to prove to others, we mostly don’t even know, that we are worth it. That we are good enough, and that we are so happy.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary the word “Advertisement” is per definition:
So according to this, a picture of you or what you are doing, etc, is per definition, not an ad. Now here’s where you are wrong. This definition is old.
It is only valid if we are talking about spending money on something. But I have a new theory, that there is (and has been for a couple of years now) a new currency, which is way more worth than money.
If you think about it, it is a currency that can be measured and can be turned into money if you want to. The more you have of it, the more power you have, the more money you can make.
Attention can be measured in the number of people you can reach with your content. The more followers you have, the more people you can reach, the more you can “influence” people into buying a product or a service of a company, which in return pays you, relevant to the number of people you can reach.
More Attention = More Money.
But why are we even doing this? Why is somebody with 126 Followers posting pictures about a bowl of fruits and putting #healthy under it, trying to prove something? Because at first, we get different values out of it. We feel accepted, relevant and part of a community. While there are lots of trolls on the internet, usually the ones who are going to comment are those who are going to tell you how pretty, fantastic and motivating you are. And that feels good. It makes us feel better, not that irrelevant and a little bit special.
But just as with money, trying to chase this new currency of attention and spending it excessively on things we don’t need our lives, we should be aware of our attention spending habits.
I think it’s sad, how many times I see two friends, or even partners, sitting at the table of a restaurant or a bar, staring at their screens.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I too enjoy a new travel vlog from my favorite Youtuber, but at the very moment where I close my laptop and look over my shoulder on my pretty “normal” and not at all adventurous life, asking myself if I made the right choices and start to question everything I ever did, it gets harmful.
In these new days where attention means more than money, we are building an online world made of filters, photoshop edits, and upbeat deep house music, that has nothing to do with our reality, causing most of us to have an unrealistic expectation of life, and people.
And one final note, that I want to share with you.
Life is not happening between Friday and Sunday. It’s from Monday to Sunday. It’s not that two weeks of vacation in July, but January to December. It is not about white sand beaches, traveling from A to B and the newest Smartphone. It is the coffee in the morning, the laugh of our significant other, the crying of a baby next to you on the bus, the read, but unanswered message of the possible love of our lives.
We should try to find joy not in the “exciting few”, but in the “boring many”. In the cold and dark Tuesday morning in November, just as much as in the cloudless Friday afternoon in June.
So the next time, you are sharing something on social media, at least do it without a filter.