The skies are clear over China. The birds are singing to the people there for the first time since they can remember.
In Venice, the canals are clear. The fish are back. The swans glide by for the first time in who knows how long.
The main road by my house is quiet. The bus still passes every half hour, although I can’t imagine who is on it. I can hear the creek babble on with its incessant nothings.
The rain smells like rain again. In the spring we breathe in the clean smell of finished compost.
Damnit. I feel guilty.
Over the past several years, I have sent emails to millions of inboxes — each formatted to do one thing: sell. More stuff, more orders, more things placed in boxes, taped up, and put on the back of an exhaust-belching truck, in the hold of a climate-cyclone of a jetliner, so stuff may travel across the country or around the globe to a person who looked at the email I wrote and said: “I need the stuff.”
I’d like to think they were at least able to recycle the packaging. I only hoped they didn’t initiate a return.
Click here, buy now, act now — limited time only. Play enough SIM CITY and you know you can have healthy sims or a healthy economy, never both. A cheat code is required if you want to jump to a carbon-neutral existence.
The skies are clear over China. I’m sorry about the mess. I want the Venetians to welcome back their fish and bask in the gentle beauty of their sinking city.
I would also like to pay my bills. I would like to help business owners and salespeople and solopreneurs pay theirs. Most of us don’t want to rule the world or be famous; most of us would like to afford lunch and not be forgotten.
In the heat of last summer, in the middle of a blog-writing blitz for a client, I had a 2-AM moment of clarity (exhaustion? Same difference?) good lord, what is this for?
If I write this, will it be presented in the right context? If I write this, will people act on it the way the client expects? If the past hundred blogs didn’t hit, what about the next dozen will?
That was the morning I penned out the early stages of Content For The Greater Good. Thesis: We ask for attention so we can turn it into an economy. Are we treating our audience’s attention with respect?
If we ask someone to look over here, look at this thing, is it more important or beneficial to anything else they could be looking at?
Is there a point to stuffing everyone’s feed full of posts so we can collect likes and followers?
Last month, everyone was talking about Love Is Blind. It was enough to say: please, exploit our attention. Yes, there is something essential and vital outside we must pay attention to, but we just can’t take it anymore.
We’re not mad as hell, we’re frightened. The monster under the bed doesn’t exist if you don’t lift up the sheets.
The marketer exploits attention because it’s the one resource we don’t feel guilty for exploiting. Tomorrow our audience will wake up, another 24 hours of their focus to disrupt. If attention is renewable, everything else is not.
Attention converts into action. Click here, buy now. Place your order, two-day shipping, worker exploitation, cosmetics with questionable ingredients.
I look every client in the face and say, “Yes, I can help you bring this to the world,” and they will burn everything to get it to the customer’s door. Turn attention into action, and the cloud slowly builds over China.
Packages are shipped. Demand goes up. People return to work.
Travelers see an ad. Yeah, we should go to Italy, their economy needs to recover with our tourism dollars.
A gondola ride at dawn, looking overboard the canal wears it’s oily mask again. The swans find elsewhere to roost.
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