The Cost of Paying Attention

I don’t know what to make of the world anymore. I don’t know where to direct my pain and my exhaustion. Everyday there’s something new to be horrified over. Everyday there’s some new terror to fear.

There are days I wish for the times before I was connected with the entire world. Before I knew of the hates and pains suffered by everyone all across the country, and the globe. Do I need to know of all this pain? Do I need to unplug and go back to a simpler time? I was thinking about this when I came across
The Cost of Paying Attention in The New York Times

Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it. And yet we’ve auctioned off more and more of our public space to private commercial interests, with their constant demands on us to look at the products on display or simply absorb some bit of corporate messaging. Lately, our self-appointed disrupters have opened up a new frontier of capitalism, complete with its own frontier ethic: to boldly dig up and monetize every bit of private head space by appropriating our collective attention. In the process, we’ve sacrificed silence — the condition of not being addressed. And just as clean air makes it possible to breathe, silence makes it possible to think.

I think about this everyday. When I encase myself with headphones and tune out the people on the train, and the constant talking at work.

Silence is now offered as a luxury good. 

Luxury cars are sold with silence as a feature. The article talks about the luxury lounges in airports being an oasis of calm and quiet. It’s a world where the demands on our attention have never been higher. The talking never stops. The demands to engage and be sold to never go away. Silence is bliss.

Silence is sold as a luxury good.

I grew up in the country. I woke to mooing cows and crowing roosters. I couldn’t see another house from my own. We had green fields and tall trees surrounding our property. Now I live in a city. I live in a townhouse. I don’t even have four walls to myself.

But it’s not the noise that drives me mad. It’s the light. All hours of the day and night, bright lights piercing the darkness. The blazing lights penetrate my bedroom windows to illuminate a park, closed at dark.

But it’s never dark there. It’s as bright as daylight all night long at that park. I don’t know why we pay to keep the lights on all night long. Recently, the home owner’s associate replaced the lights with brighter bulbs. So now the night is even brighter and closed to daylight.

I still can’t explain why. I can’t understand why the light is required at night. When did the dark become such a terrible thing? I miss the night. I miss the dark. I miss the quiet.