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6 Degrees of Separation: How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

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Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly book meme hosted by blogger Books Are My Favourite and Best. A book is given and you develop a chain of 6 books that must relate at least to the one before it. It’s fun.

This month’s book is a really different choice–a personal help book on our attention and what we do with it! How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy.

Here’s a bit of the blurb from Amazon to help orient you:

In a world where addictive technology is designed to buy and sell our attention, and our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity, it can seem impossible to escape. But in this inspiring field guide to dropping out of the attention economy, artist and critic Jenny Odell shows us how we can still win back our lives. …Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. And we must actively and continuously choose how we use it. We might not spend it on things that capitalism has deemed important … but once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress….Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book will change how you see your place in our world.

Comment from me:

Reading the blurb left me feeling like I had to become one of those much-younger women who scream in the face of police officers or who protest wearing rubber v–i-as on their heads. Not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with that (o.k., depending on your political leanings there could be A LOT wrong with that!).

 

My Chain

#1

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The Authenticity Project sounded like it was titled by the same folks who wrote that blurb for How to Do Nothing. I liked the book and it was, of course, about where to place your attention socially. Lonely? Leave the house–that sort of thing, but in the fun setting of a novel.

 

#2

You could almost say the Accidental Tourist is the opposite of the Authenticity Project in spirit. Macon writes books for travelers who hate to travel and want an experience as much like being at home as possible. Macon’s guides show them how to focus their attention to avoid the stress and discomfort of travel. This is my favorite Anne Tyler book and a favorite movie I’ve watched too many times.

 

#3

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Luckless Andrew Less decides he must take his attention off his misery at learning his ex is getting married. To do this he takes a writing assignment that involves going around the world. Lots of lessons await him, as you can imagine. Less by Andrew Sean Greer.

#4

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Poor Ove! His beloved wife is dead and he is trying to end his life. Thankfully, his neighbors need him. They force his attention off his misery and on to their problems! A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

 

#5

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“Just a widow” was how most of the women would describe themselves. Through writing dirty memoirs or dirty stories and sharing them, these women take the attention off their societal invisibility and become empowered! The start to work for change in their community. All from comparing anatomical parts to sweet potatoes! Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

#6

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Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed For Me by Caroline Criado Perez helps get the world’s attention onto more than men and male-ordered tasks. The author shows how, time-and-again, women are ignored in things like planning transportation systems or housing developments and always to the detriment of the project. When women are consulted, change happens because attention gets focused on the people who do the caring jobs. Men don’t do those for the most part. Women are the ones who do the errands, the weekly shopping, the checking on great-grandmothers, the helping out new Moms, the helping with the classroom pizza party, and usually do so with children or elderly in tow and usually in an organized manner that men do not even know exist.

This is the only non-fiction title, but it brings us close to full circle. While this isn’t a self-help book it is a “help” book (for society), gets attention refocused, and can bring political change. I am reading this at work with two co-workers. We are slow, but when we are done I will review it. It’s well worth reading, especially if you’ve ever tried to use a bad public transportation system like that in Indianapolis!

 

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Join in the fun on the first Saturday in September when our starting book will be: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld.

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