How to Be a Better Lover: Attention in a Distracted World
When it comes to information, humanity has been playing a vast game of Tetris for thousands of years. 1
As any child of the 1980s knows, the goal of Tetris is to take the differently shaped blocks that rain down from the top of the screen and rotate and stack them into an orderly configuration. In our game of information Tetris, new blocks of information are constantly being formed as we encounter and acquire knowledge. Our task is to take the “blocks” of information we come into contact with and place them into our experience in a helpful and enriching way.
This was easier for our ancestors. Most of them lived in environments of information scarcity, which meant that they were near the beginning of the game. The blocks were falling slowly from the sky. There was time to attend to each one, make a decision, and move on.
But those were the early rounds of the game. All Tetris players know that the game rapidly escalates. The blocks fall faster with each round until it is harder and harder to keep up.
Here in 2020, information is coming toward us at lightning speed and from every direction. We have more access to information—more opportunities to learn, search, communicate, network, and share—than at any other point in human history. There is a whole world of digital information and entertainment available at our fingertips 24/7. The internet makes constant claims on our attention and it does so with increasing effectiveness through our smartphones and digital devices.
There is so much information coming at us, so many blocks falling from the sky, that many of us are losing control of the game. When we are conscious of this, we feel overwhelmed—inadequate, dumb, like poor players of the game. When we are not conscious of this, however, we are simply distracted. We lack focus and intention, we forget what we initially set out to do, and we wonder why time is going by so fast.
Case in point: Have you recently sat down on the couch to read a book or write a message to a friend, only to emerge from your phone or iPad an hour or more later having checked social media, read a few articles, played a few rounds of a game, posted something on Instagram, and perhaps even purchased something from an ad you saw online? This has become a way of life for many of us and it happens more times than we’d like to admit.
You’ll find articles about these issues in major news publications just about every week. Sometimes theses pieces are about how distraction inhibits productivity in the workplace, safety on the road, our ability to process information, or how we remember things. But I’m convinced that we’ve paid very little attention to something even more primal. Our information-saturated moment has a formative affect on our loving.
As our distractibility goes up, our capacity for other-centered love goes down. The more distracted we are, the more our love is turned away from the people and places around us and toward the things that distract us. Our distractions don’t simply prevent us from loving God and other people—they actually shape the things we love instead.
Let’s unfold this idea under three headings.
First: What is love? We’ll sketch a basic definition of love to help us understand why it is so endangered in our information-swamped world.
Second: Love’s innovative enemies. We’ll look at four cultural and technological developments that currently contribute to how our love is shaped.
Finally: Paying attention to what we’re paying attention to. We’ll draw some conclusion about the quantity and the quality of our love.
- WHAT IS LOVE
a. Describing love
Love is the guiding force of every person’s life. Our love is the fuel of our action, drawing us like a magnet toward what we most desire.
I didn’t always believe this. In fact, I read many books when I was a teenager, and even went to a Christian apologetics camp, where I was told the exact opposite. “Right living flows from right thinking,” I was taught. “If you think the right things, the right actions will fall into place.”
But I eventually encountered a startling problem: I had a brain full of “right thinking” but no desire to live according to it.
Thankfully, I soon came across some books by the American Christian philosopher James K.A. Smith that significantly helped me with this problem. 2 The burden of much of Smith’s writing is a conviction that many Christians have latched onto an understanding of action and behavior that prioritizes thinking, but neglects desire and love. We often confuse discipleship with information gathering, assuming that the Christian life is primarily about acquiring knowledge of the truth. But many of us know in our guts that it is more complicated than that.
Smith puts it like this:
…the vast majority of our action and behavior is “driven” by all sorts of unconscious, pre-cognitive “drivers,” so to speak. Those pre-conscious desires are formed in all sorts of ways that are not “intellectual.” And so while I might be fueling my mind with a steady diet of Scripture, what I don’t realize is that all sorts of other cultural practices are actually forming my desire in affective, unconscious ways. Because of the sorts of creatures we are, those pre-conscious desires often win out. 3
A simple example: I am fully aware of what healthy eating looks like. I know in my mind that it does not involve late night visits to the refrigerator. If my knowledge and beliefs were the decisive factor, I would never find myself spoon in hand, eating ice cream straight from the container at 11:22 pm. But my ritual of late-night snacking has formed me into a lover of ice cream. I love the pleasure of ice cream more than I love the goal of health.
There are things I love more than the truth that I know—and the same is true for you. We bear in our hearts a vision of what we want and are propelled toward that vision, often in spite of firmly held convictions. You are what you love, Smith says, but you might not love what you think. 4
An illustration from the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has helped me understand this more clearly. 5 Haidt suggests that the mind is divided into two parts like a small rider on the back of a very large and powerful elephant. The rider represents our conscious reasoning, our thinking. The elephant represents our intuition, or what we’re calling our love.
An elephant is very large and profoundly smart—and the same is true of our love. Our love knows how carry us toward the things we desire most. This is why we can fill our rider’s head with reams of information and rational argument, while our elephant keeps on carrying us in a different direction.
Your love is your elephant, taking you toward what you most desire.
b. Defining love
We’ve described how love works, but what exactly is love? This is a difficult question, for that word in the English language has so many common and diverse uses.
A husband looks into his wife’s eyes and says, “I love you” an hour after exclaiming “I love this steak” at the dinner table. I say that I love my family, but I also say I love our local pizza shop and the breakfast sandwich at the Jewish bakery down the street. We use the phrase “making love” as shorthand for sex. There are so many uses for this one, four-letter word.
But let’s get more basic. When we use the word love, what is the subject doing or showing in relation to the object? Can we name that thing we are exerting when we give “love” and that thing we are receiving when we receive “love”? Here is my attempt.
Love is committed attending.
“Commit your way to the Lord,” implores the psalmist (37:5). Join with Him and walk His paths. When we commit to something, we pledge or bind our self to it. There is dedication involved—an intention to stick with something or someone even when it is difficult, draining, or disappointing. We commit to something—be it good or evil, easy or difficult—because we are somehow persuaded that it is good to do so.
Attending is more than just showing up; it’s less “He wasn’t in attendance today” and more “Look how that mother attends to her daughter.” Attending means offering more than a momentary glance or a short period of concentration. Attending is active presence, the consistent application of energy toward something rather than away from it.
Do you want to identify the objects of your love? If so, ask yourself, “Who or what receives the most of my committed attending—my active presence?” The answers to this question can be unsettling.
I may say I love reading and back up this claim by lining my home with books. What does it mean, then, if I spend the majority of my free hours scrolling through Instagram, playing games on my iPad, and surveying the Netflix terrain? Clearly, I don’t love reading as much as I think I do. I may have had a love for books once, but my committed attending has since found new objects.
Or, think of a spouse who cheats on their beloved three times in a short span and each time comes back saying, “You’ve always been the one I loved the most!” The spouse might truly think they love their partner most, but their committed attending has been directed elsewhere, turned toward someone else whom they feel is more fulfilling than their spouse.
The objects of our committed attending are the objects of our love. Attention is the engine of love. Where your attention is, there your love will be also.
- LOVE’S INNOVATIVE ENEMIES
If love and attention are this intimately connected, we must consider love’s innovative enemies—four cultural and technological forces bent on harvesting as much of our committed attending as possible.
a. The Attention Merchants
The attention merchants are a class of businessperson whose presence dominate our world. In 2020, they are literally everywhere, present with us during all of our waking and sleeping. Each one of us has interacted with multiple, perhaps even hundreds of attention merchants today, most of us within the last hour, even if we haven’t realized it. The attention merchants are with you right now, their presence suffusing the place where you sit even though they are not physically present.
Our attention is a resource for us, but for the attention merchant, our attention is a commodity. The business of the attention merchant is to harvest your attention and convert it into revenue for someone else.
The first attention merchant was a man named Benjamin Day, a newspaperman who stumbled upon a remarkable new business model back in 1833. Day wasn’t really interested in publishing the news; he just wanted to make money. His solution was to sell his paper The Sun for less than it cost to produce and make his money selling page space to advertisers. Day’s cheap newspaper reeled readers in with juicy (and often entirely false) stories about grisly suicides, murders, and sexual escapades—and it was chock full of ads. Readers would see these ads, their desire for the products would be piqued, and they’d open their wallets.
It looked like Benjamin Day was selling newspapers, but he was actually selling his readers to advertisers. The newspaper was not Benjamin Day’s main product, the readers were. Like all attention merchants, Benjamin day offered his readers an affordable product in order to harvest their attention and sell it to the highest bidder.
“Attention merchant” is the Columbia University law professor Tim Wu’s word for advertiser 6—and Benjamin Day’s brilliant decision was the dawn of an industry.
The M.O. of the attention merchant is to lurk, Wu explains, “seeking out time and spaces previously walled off from commercial exploitation, gathering up chunks and then slivers of our unharvested awareness.” 7 And this lurking has become quite advanced since the 1850s.
Advertising came to maturity in the twentieth century. Consumers were buying the items and services they needed when they saw advertisements, but a significant problem eventually arose—once they got what they needed, they stopped buying. The attention merchants began to see that America needed to shift from a needs economy to a wants economy.
This was accomplished by shifting the content of advertising away from factual information about products. There needed to be a desire component, a way of awakening or implanting desire in people—and once you could key into that desire, behaviors and attitudes could be powerfully shaped. Talk to the elephant, not to the rider.
In other words, advertising is not about products. In the fancier parlance of Don Draper:
Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK. 8
Advertising is about persuasion, not information. Even toward the end of the twentieth century, it was still difficult to measure just how effective this persuasion was. But with the dawn of the internet, the attention merchants struck gold with new forms analytics and ad customization—an unforeseen tool belt of new ways to get consumer eyes on persuasive content.
And suddenly, without many people seeing just what was happening, the sophisticated persuasion of the attention merchants allied itself with the equally sophisticated technology of Silicon Valley at the beginning of the twenty-first century. As the new millennium dawned, the attention merchants came into possession of unprecedented new methods for turning the cash crop of human attention into an industrial commodity. 9
b. The Attention Economy
We are now living in what economists call “the attention economy.” This is love’s second innovative enemy.
To understand what this means, consider the words of the economist Herbert Simon back in 1971:
In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a death of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it. 10
A wealth of information means a shortage of attention. There is more information available to us than ever before in human history, so the stakes are higher than ever for the attention merchants. There is a constant race to get our attention, especially on the internet where most of us spend a large part of our lives.
The attention economy came into being with the introduction of the smartphone, a device designed to consume human attention wherever it could be found. The smartphone is optimally suited not only for making consumers see advertisements, but for ceaselessly monitoring, tracking, and measuring consumer activity in order to ensure that what consumers see on their screens produces maximum persuasion.
c. Algorithmic Behavior Modification
The Silicon Valley pioneer Jaron Lanier calls this process algorithmic behavior modification—and it is the primary way the attention merchants persuade in our current attention economy.
Algorithms are simply sets of rules for a computer to follow in order to achieve a set goal. They read data and respond accordingly. Lanier vividly explains how algorithms work in the attention economy:
Algorithms gorge on data about you, every second. What kinds of links do you click on? What videos do you watch all the way through? How quickly are you moving from one thing to the next? Where are you when you do these things? Who are you connecting with in person and online? What facial expressions do you make? How does your skin tone change in different situations? What were you doing just before you decided to buy something or not? …
All these measurements and many others have been matched up with similar readings about the lives of multitudes of other people … [in order to] correlate what you do with what almost everyone else has done. 11
Though the algorithms don’t know you on a relational level as a spouse or a friend might, they are remarkably good at what they do. Through what you write, watch, click, buy, say, and do, the attention merchants’ algorithms make a guess about your emotional state—Are you happy? Sad? Lonely? Fearful?—and then populate your screen with the kind of content that will consume more of your attention, with the end goal of getting you to buy things, either online or in person. Through this technology, the attention merchant “can seize the moment when you are perfectly primed and then influence you with messages that have worked on other people who share traits and situations with you.” 12
The fact that our phones and social media constantly distract us is not an accident. The process is called persuasive design, and it’s the result of thousands of hours of careful psychological research. You cannot be on your phone, and especially not on social media, without your attention being vied for by the attention merchants—and they have done their research to ensure that they will grab as much of your attention as they can with the right colors, sounds, images, and other persuasive tools.
d. Surveillance Capitalism
In our contemporary attention economy, algorithmic behavior modification is the most successful avenue for the attention merchants to seduce consumers to desire and purchase things and experiences. Powerful and ubiquitous, it has become the foundation of a new economic order that the Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff calls surveillance capitalism, our final innovative enemy within which the others find their home.
In her comprehensive book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, Zuboff develops an illuminating vocabulary for understanding the invisible workings of this new economic logic. She does this by comparing surveillance capitalism to its industrial predecessor.
In industrial capitalism, nature was claimed as raw material for the production of commodities that could be sold and purchased. Trees from verdant forests were cut down en masse, processed in factories, and fashioned into consumer products. Vast swaths of creation were reborn as real estate to be bought and sold in the market.
In surveillance capitalism, the raw material—the forests and the trees, as it were—is our private human experience. Through our smartphones and other devices with the prefix smart-, this experience is claimed for the market and reborn as behavioral data. This data is run through production processes called artificial intelligence and machine learning. Out of these invisible “factories” come prediction products—packages of educated guesses of what we will do now, soon, or later. Almost every business in our current economy is interested in these products which amount to behavioral futures. These futures can be leveraged to direct the activity of consumers toward guaranteed commercial outcomes.
Thus, Zuboff declares, we arrive at surveillance capitalism, “a new economic order that claims human experience as free raw material for hidden commercial practices of extraction, prediction, and sales.” 13
Though there are hundreds of thousands of advertisers in the world who would like to engineer your behavior toward guaranteed commercial outcomes, there are two private companies who currently control the best algorithms.
Google and Facebook are attention merchants and surveillance capitalists extraordinaire with a relentless dedication to keeping us engaged with their products. These two companies alone comprise 85% of internet advertising’s growth in America from year-to-year—and the numbers keep rising. 14 They have the scientifically proven ability to shape what billions of people desire and love, and increasingly how we behave.
Remember that an attention merchant is someone who offers you something for a very low cost (or for free) in order to harvest your attention and sell it to someone else. What does Google offer us? What is the free raw material harvested when Google products and services are used? Nicholas Carr summarizes:
Through Gmail, it secured access to the contents of people’s emails and address books. Through Google Maps, it gained a bead on people’s whereabouts and movements. Through Google Calendar, it learned what people were doing at different moments during the day and whom they were doing it with. Through Google News, it got a readout of people’s interests and political leanings. Through Google Shopping, it opened a window onto people’s wish lists, brand preferences, and other material desires. 15
The result? “Without permission, without compensation, and with little in the way of resistance,” Carr writes, “the company seized and declared ownership over everyone’s information [offered to the company through people’s attention]. It turned the details of the lives of millions and then billions of people into its own property” 16—property that is sent through the company’s algorithms in order to mold and shape user behavior.
James Williams is a former Google employee who has used his insider knowledge of these practices to write critically about them. In his book, Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy, he offers this axiom to help us understand the way technology functions in our cultural moment: “There’s a deep misalignment between the goals we have for ourselves and the goals our technologies have for us.” 17
Google has goals for you that are far different from the goals you have for your use of their products. But Facebook has gone even further—and by Facebook we must include their other properties Instagram and WhatsApp.
When we use these services, we tend to see them solely as resources we use to express ourselves and to communicate with others. Each one of us has a human need for connection with other people and for a way to share our lives with other people. Facebook approaches us and says, “Here: I will give you both for free.” And we think we are in control since we decide what we post and what we share. This is just what the attention merchant has always wanted us to think.
But remember what James Williams says: “There’s a deep misalignment between the goals we have for ourselves and the goals our technologies have for us.” 18
Your goal for Facebook? Connect with other people and share yourself.
Facebook’s goal for you? Keep you on Facebook for as long possible so that you provide them with free raw material that they can use to shape your behavior toward guaranteed commercial outcomes. The more of your waking moments Facebook consumes, the more accurately they are able to do this.
According to Zuboff, there is really only one organizing problem Facebook is trying to solve: “how and when to intervene in the state of play that is your daily life in order to modify your behavior and thus sharply increase the predictability of your actions now, soon, and later.” 19
The company conducts all manner of research to ensure these desired outcomes. Consider this report from The Guardian in 2017:
An internal Facebook report leaked [in 2017] revealed that the company can identify when teens feel “insecure”, “worthless” and “need a confidence boost.” Such granular information, Harris adds, is “a perfect model of what buttons you can push in a particular person.”
Tech companies can exploit such vulnerabilities to keep people hooked; manipulating, for example, when people receive “likes” for their posts, ensuring they arrive when an individual is likely to feel vulnerable, or in need of approval, or maybe just bored. And the very same techniques can be sold to the highest bidder. 20
This process is completely invisible to users. It’s also why the advertisements we see across the internet are constantly changing, shifting, and adapting to us: the algorithms know much of, if not all of our internet activity, and increasingly our non-internet activity, via any device with the prefix smart- in front of it.
Google and Facebook were the pioneers of using human experience as free raw material for behavior modification. This economic logic has moved beyond these two companies and is now deeply rooted in the entire tech sector. As Carr puts it, “Much of the recent innovation in the tech industry has entailed the creation of products and services designed to vacuum up data from every corner of our lives” for the purpose of “figuring out ways to use the data to shape how people think and act.” 21
This is no conspiracy theory; it’s simply the way industrial persuasion works in 2020. Consider the slogan of a popular data mining company that helps advertisers pull the right levers on Facebook and Google algorithms in order to get ads in front of the right consumers at the right time: “Software to help turn customers into fanatics, products into obsessions, employees into ambassadors, and brands into religions.”
The goal is to fashion a personalized climate of desire, mediated through your devices, that feels entirely pleasing and comfortable. As you dwell in this climate and breathe its air, you will begin to crave certain experiences and want certain things. These companies have mastered the art of channeling your committed attending toward those things and experiences, resulting in great monetary gain for every stakeholder.
- PAYING ATTENTION TO WHAT WE’RE PAYING ATTENTION TO
Let’s draw all this together. As our distractibility goes up, the quality of our love for one another goes down. The more distracted we are, the more our love—our committed attending—is turned away from God and from the people and places around us toward the thing that distracts us.
Here in the attention economy, love’s innovative enemies are keenly aware of our psychology and deep emotional needs. They know what to offer us to keep us engaged. We accept the offer—and they harvest our attention via our digital and smart- devices. If love is committed attending, then by doing this, they are drawing out love from us and forming us to love them more than the people and places around us. After all, any claim made on our attention is a claim made on our capacity to love. Where your attention is, there your love will be also.
There are many conclusions to draw from this. The most primal one, however, comes from the Christian psychologist Curt Thompson: We must pay attention to what we’re paying attention to. 22 In particular, we should note how what we are attending to is shaping both the quantity and the quality of our love for God and neighbor.
a. The Quantity of our Love
In his book Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport highlights the misalignment James Williams encourages us to notice. In order to find some digital sanity, Newport asked his blog readers to join him on a challenge called the digital declutter. The process had three steps:
1. Put aside a thirty-day period during which you will take a break from optional technologies in your life.
2. During this thirty-day break, explore and rediscover activities and behaviors that you find satisfying and meaningful.
3. At the end of the break reintroduce optional technologies into your life, starting from a blank slate. For each technology you reintroduce, determine what value it serves in your life and how specifically you will use it so as to maximize this value. 23
Newport projected only a few takers, but he ended up getting over 1,200 participants. A theme he noticed in the reports participants gave him afterward was the discovery that time online had crowded out their capacity to participate in activities with other human beings. Many of his readers failed to realize the extent to which the internet had pushed “analog social media” out of their life. The declutter helped them regain time to prepare meals together and actually see their close friends in person.
Newport’s research reveals just how much many of us fail to see the extent to which the “digital clutter” in our lives—social media, podcasts, Netflix, etc.—has reshaped what we now love. It’s certainly one of the reasons why we say we are always “too busy”. Our capacity for love has been zapped through our lack of paying attention to what we’re paying attention to.
We live in a time when many people who have been Christians for a long time are burning out on their faith, filled with a feeling that they just can’t live a life of faith anymore. There are a variety of unique reasons for this, but this is certainly one: Information overload and distraction is taking away the limited supply of committed attending many people use to live a life of faith toward God.
b. The Quality of Our Love
In July of 2018, The Atlantic published an article by Erika Christakis entitled “The Dangers of Distracted Parenting.” 24 Christakis is a mother of three and, like many parents today, she’s heard a lot about the dangers of too much screen time for kids. She points out, however, that we should be just as concerned—or even more concerned—about “tuned-out parents.”
Statistics show that mothers spend a higher quantity of time caring for their children than mothers in the 1960s, but that parent-child engagement today is increasingly low-quality. “Parents are constantly present in their children’s lives physically, but they are less emotionally attuned”, she writes, because of the ubiquitous presence of digital devices. Christakis notes that occasional parental inattention has been part of parenting forever, but that parenting in our time is characterized more by continuous partial attention. Her conclusion is profound:
Smartphone use has been associated with a familiar sign of addiction: Distracted adults grow irritable when their phone use is interrupted; they not only miss emotional cues but actually misread them. A tuned-out parent may be quicker to anger than an engaged one, assuming that a child is trying to be manipulative when, in reality, she just wants attention. Short, deliberate separations can of course be harmless, even healthy, for parent and child alike (especially as children get older and require more independence). But that sort of separation is different from the inattention that occurs when a parent is with a child but communicating through his or her nonengagement that the child is less valuable than an email. A mother telling kids to go out and play, a father saying he needs to concentrate on a chore for the next half hour—these are entirely reasonable responses to the competing demands of adult life. What’s going on today, however, is the rise of unpredictable care, governed by the beeps and enticements of smartphones. We seem to have stumbled into the worst model of parenting imaginable—always present physically, thereby blocking children’s autonomy, yet only fitfully present emotionally.
What is this other than a deep deficiency in the quality of love? It is the precise opposite of committed attending.
“There’s a deep misalignment between the goals we have for ourselves and the goals our technologies have for us.” 25
Think about this as you scroll through Instagram and see an ad for that thing you didn’t know you wanted, and that you’ll now be thinking about for days on end. Consider it at midnight when Netflix starts autoplaying the next episode of your new favorite show. Remember it when you receive a bundle of notifications on your phone in those bleary moments before you crawl into bed to rest your body and mind.
These moments of self-reflection will shelter you, if only for a moment, from the lightning rounds of information Tetris that thunder all around. It will provide you with even the smallest bit of energy necessary to take that salvaged portion of your love and to call your grandmother, take your spouse on a date, pray for your children, be emotionally available for your community, or unearth that forgotten hobby that once gave you such joy.
In the attention economy, these deceptively simple acts of paying attention to the things that matter most are acts of resistance. They are the essential first steps to becoming a better lover.
Attention is something we pay—a limited currency we are always rendering to someone or something. But what exactly are we paying when we pay attention? James Williams writes,
You pay with all the things you could have attended to, but didn’t: all the goals you didn’t pursue, all the actions you didn’t take, and all the possible yous you could have been, had you attended to those other things. Attention is paid in possible futures forgone. … We pay attention with the lives we might have lived. 26
Your attention is precious. Protect it with care. Offer it with intention in a lifetime of love.
Copyright © 2020 Phillip Johnston
Phillip Johnston is an editor, researcher, and speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. A former staff member at L’Abri Fellowship and graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, Phillip is also the curator of Three Things, a newsletter digest of three resources to help readers better engage with God, neighbor, and culture.
- This image comes from James Williams, Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy(Cambridge, UK; Cambridge University Press, 2018), 15.
- See James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2016).
- “Spiritual Formation through Desire: An Interview with James K. A. Smith”, The Gospel Coalition, January 12, 2010. See it online.
- Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, Chapter 2.
- Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion (New York, NY: Random House, 2012), 52-56.
- Tim Wu, The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016).
- Wu, 6.
- Mad Men, “Pilot”.
- Wu, 9.
- Herbert Simon, “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World” in Computers, Communications, and the Public Interest (Johns Hopkins Press, 1971), 37-52.
- Jaron Lanier, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2018), 5-6.
- Lanier, 6.
- Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power(New York, NY: Public Affairs, 2019), front matter.
- Cited in Williams, 36
- Nicholas Carr, “Thieves of Experience: How Google and Facebook Corrupted Capitalism”, LA Review of Books, January 15, 2019. See it online.
- Carr, “Thieves of Experience”
- Williams, 9.
- Williams, 9.
- Zuboff, 35.
- Paul Lewis, “’Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia”, The Guardian, October 6, 2017. See online.
- Carr, “Thieves of Experience”
- Curt Thompson, Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections Between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices That Can Transform Your Life and Relationships (SaltRiver, 2010), Chapter 4.
- Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (New York, NY: Penguin Random House, 2019), 60.
- Erika Christakis, “The Dangers of Distracted Parenting”, The Atlantic, July 2018. See online.
- Williams, 9.
- Williams, 45.