I recommend reading 'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphon... by Paul Lewis yourself, as it can change your world view.

Taking this seriously has surreal implications. The attention economy involves internet technologies that control our attention to maximize advertising profit. We have already changed, our minds have changed, and the attention-based social media market has already had a devastating impact upon the US political system.

Justin Rosenstein, the co-creator of Facebook “like” says, “If we only care about profit maximisation we will go rapidly into dystopia.” Former Google strategist James Willimas describes the industry as “the largest, most standardised and most centralised form of attentional control in human history”. Former Google employee Tristan Harris says, “A handful of people, working at a handful of technology companies, through their choices will steer what a billion people are thinking today.” [quotes lifted from article]

There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. 

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“The attention economy incentivises the design of technologies that grab our attention,” he [Williams] says. “In so doing, it privileges our impulses over our intentions.”

... the rules of the attention economy to “sensationalise, bait and entertain ..."

The attention economy itself is set up to promote a phenomenon like Trump, who is masterly at grabbing and retaining the attention of supporters and critics alike, often by exploiting or creating outrage.

Trump … heralded a watershed in which “the new, digitally supercharged dynamics of the attention economy have finally crossed a threshold and become manifest in the political realm”.

... not only distorting the way we view politics but, over time, may be changing the way we think, making us less rational and more impulsive. We’ve habituated ourselves into a perpetual cognitive style of outrage, by internalising the dynamics of the medium”... [emphasis mine]

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If the attention economy erodes our ability to remember, to reason, to make decisions for ourselves – faculties that are essential to self-governance – what hope is there for democracy itself?

“The dynamics of the attention economy are structurally set up to undermine the human will,”... [emphasis mine]

If Lewis is on target, and I believe he is, reason is already doomed. And Trump isn't just an abberation, he's paradigmatic of our permanently changed politics.

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So we exist in a sea of infotainment which is neither information nor entertainment, and as a result we're subjected to rule by impulse.

Concisely stated, Bertold!

And it might be unfair to blame only "Saint" Reagan for the demise of the Fairness Doctrine. If not him, it would have been some other servant of the oligarchy. But that tipping point, coming when it did, helped empower the shock doctrine that (together with systemic racism, and the broad white backlash against a black presidency) brought the current US president* into power.


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