ARE YOU ENTERTAINED OR ADDICTED?
There’s some psychological function deep in our brains that tells us, “Well, I just spent six hours watching this show, I must like it a lot.” When, no, its script is actually a mediocre piece of hot trash and you’re being manipulated by cliffhangers and bad writing for hours on end to keep watching.
The same way you get hijacked into scrolling through social media way more than you’d actually like to, your brain gets hijacked to watch “just one more episode” to find out if so-and-so really died or not.
Recently , there was a movie that is so entertaining that anyone who views even a small portion of it will give up all desire to do anything else in life in order to keep watching.
“Alchemy Of Soul” got its viewers on top of their feet. Viewers were always waiting patiently to find out what happened to their favorite character “Naksu”, who happens to shift souls using the “Alchemy Of Soul”.
Episodes was dropped weekly on Netflix and viewers will long for more. It pains me to say that we mistake this addictive media for entertainment.
A similar problem is the YouTube, where the biggest creators to rack up millions of views doing insane things like opening a thousand Amazon boxes or giving away cars to their friends, over and over and over again.
On the one hand, it’s not that interesting. On the other, you find yourself mindlessly clicking on the next video, and the next, and the next, and the next. It pains me to say that we mistake this addictive media for entertainment.
When everything is measured in terms of engagement, content will be optimized for addictiveness. Not entertainment or artistic merit. Not intellectual substance or creativity. Pure, plain addictiveness. That means we, the consumers, get a higher quantity of more predictable, less innovative, less interesting art in our lives.
Ultimately, nobody can manage our attention by ourselves. We can get mad at Netflix or Spotify. But these systems are loose reflections of our own attention habits shining back at us.
Change our attention, change the systems. There’s an old saying that people “vote with their feet.” Well, today you need to vote with your eyeballs.
Don’t watch the next episode of that poorly written piece of garbage that keeps teasing you with characters almost dying. Don’t listen to the next half-assed album with 27 different two-minute tracks. Don’t click on clickbait.
Don’t mindlessly scroll through TikTok and YouTube, rewarding people for attention-grabbing stunts. And don’t watch or respond to politicians and pundits who try to blather on and on about pet issues but never actually get anything done.
By Amodu Temitope
Lagos State University.