If I ask you about the biggest scam of this century, you are likely to mention the 2008 banking scam, CWG, 2G, Coal, Madoff, etc.
It’s none of these.
The biggest scam, in my opinion, is the loot of your attention. You keep giving it away to several entities constantly on the prowl to steal it from you.
The advent of mobile and the numerous free apps have only ensured that you are a captive, constantly trading your information for the FREE servings.
Frankly, there is nothing FREE. You pay with your time, with your precious attention.
When you are not paying for something, you are the product.
It’s true for Google’s search engine, the funny CAT pictures on FB or videos on Youtube and it’s true for all your FREE gaming apps too.
It’s true for any thing that you consume – physically or mentally – that demands your time and your attention. You are paying for it, dearly.
You would not believe that most mobile apps are designed to get you increase your frequency of usage. They want you to be back again and again.
See those stock tickers showing live prices! Ah!
Our attention is getting worse
Ask any wise person – what is the most precious thing?. The answer most likely is going to be – TIME. Yet, we constantly give away our most precious thing to anyone and everyone.
Attention is a scarce cognitive resource. When you pay attention to one task, it necessarily requires an offset against some other tasks.
In a study a couple of years ago, humans now have lesser attention span than that of a Goldfish. A goldfish can be attentive for 9 seconds in one go. Humans, on the other hand and on an average, can be attentive only for 8 seconds. This is down from 12 seconds recorded in 2000s.
Lack of attention has actually been called a disease- ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
The impact of this ATTENTION SCAM is greater than you can believe. Our attention is now slave to what is important to other people and their tools.
You DO NOT pay attention to what is important to YOU. This hurts you big time in the long run.
How are you affected as an Investor?
When it comes to investment decisions, you are dealing with vast amounts of information. You can’t but give limited attention, thus increasing the scope of investment errors.
When faced with huge information and limited attention capacity, you will most likely focus on things that appear easy to understand. You may even avoid asking questions that matter.
Take for example, thousands of mutual fund schemes and their variants. It will require great attention to go through even ten of them in great detail. So you follow a simple criterion, past returns.
It is amusing to see how many people overestimate the tax benefit on their NPS investment.
How did Mark Zuckerberg become so rich?
You used Facebook, gave him your attention and he used it to build all the wealth that he has today.
The question is if he could become so rich by using your attention, what could you do for yourself?
You need to claim your attention back. Pay attention to things that matter and will serve you. Things that will add to you and not take away from you – such as learning new skills.
It is time to pay attention to yourself.
Between you and me: I look forward to any ideas you can share to claim our attention back from Mark Zuckerberg and Google.