Our Attention Economy is Everywhere... Even for War

Happy Sunday evening. Another post on my mind as it relates to Ukraine’s ongoing fight.

I’ve been tracking Reddit’s live update of the war since Feb 25th or so, a day after Putin announced his invasion on live TV. A close friend sent it to me and I thought it was one of the easiest ways to receive updates in one place.

What struck me the was the number of live viewers getting updates through the website. More specifically, how that number has gone down in the days since late-February. I wish I had the exact numbers but I distinctly remember 25,000 or so live followers. (The methodology is unclear but I assume it’s people with the website pulled up)

Last week, on March 9th, I saw there were only 10,835. I’m checking now in the evening of March 13th and seeing 5,178. Now obviously, this isn’t a scientific experiment and time of day matters, as do other variables, but I think it’s safe to say there’s a clear trend.

I don’t really have any sort of major takeaway from it other than I’m reminded how much of our lives are directed by the attention economy. We care about the topic but over time our focus fades, even if the war doesn’t. And in many ways, the media guides us towards the topic du jour where we debate, discuss, postulate - and then we move onto the next subject.

We are so fortunate we’re not the ones in Kyiv, or Mariupol, where supposedly thousands of civilians have been bombed to death, or any other Ukrainian city. A good reminder of how lucky we are came from this NY Magazine piece sharing the personal stories of 30 residents currently living Ukraine. Reading how their lives have changed is so sad.

Such a stark difference between us - we, in our beds, under our covers, interested in the war until one day it becomes old news; and them, hiding in shelters and sleeping in their coats and shoes, falling asleep to the sound of shelling, with no end in sight.

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