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Attention Porn and the Death of Trust

Attention doesn’t equal trust. It just means that I made you look. Trust is hard. It’s the result of making you think and consider and question and want to dive deeper—together.

45-second read

(Note: This is a continuation of something I wrote about last week. If you're interested, you can check it out here.)

I’m not competing for your attention. I’m competing for your trust.

Getting attention is easy.

I can wave my hands, be intentionally provocative, or use the right combination of trending words (you know, the words that make everyone applaud you in emphatic agreement).

But attention doesn’t equal trust. It just means that I made you look.

Trust is hard.

It’s the result of making you think and consider and question and want to dive deeper—together.

That’s how collaboration, connection, and exchange happens.

The problem—and fatal error—of everyone in the attention game is that they’re running a playbook that was designed when attention was a scarce resource.

Attention is no longer scarce. Just look around (or down at your phone). You give your short spans of attention to a lot of people—most of them strangers—all day long.

But how many of them do you trust? Virtually none.

So how is trust built?

In the context of content and business, it’s by proving that you know your shit.

It’s having unique and useful thoughts and perspectives.

And when it comes to your domain, showing that you’re the expert who knows more than I do.

Otherwise, you’re just one of the many hustlers of attention porn with shallow takes and valueless observations who are good at making people look as they drive on by.


Organizations — I’m talking to you too.

Stop hand waving.

Stop following the herd.

Stop with the optics.

Stop capitulating.

Stop blindly falling in line.

For the love of god, have an opinion and put a stake in the ground—on something.

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