In the introduction to his 2016 book “The Attention Merchants,” Tim Wu writes:
As William James observed, we must reflect that, when we reach the end of our days, our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or default. We are at risk, without quite fully realizing it, of living lives that are less our own than we imagine.
Although James made his statement in the late 19th century, it’s not hard to see how it applies to the digital age. Writer David Perell has referred to it as the “Never-Ending Now,” with social media and 24-hour cable news feeds that push us to focus on what just happened, search for what’s next, and encourage us to lose site of the forest for the trees.