We are living in the Attention Economy. We are always surrounded by ‘glowing screens’ that have been harnessed by technology companies or as author Jaron Lanier calls them ‘behavioural modification empires’ to regularly catch our attention. Ironically, it is the same attention-demanding social media platforms that have made it easier than ever before for us to define ourselves through what we do and experience. Through our very own curated ‘shop window’ we can showcase our lives to the rest of the world.
The goals of personalisation, transparency and giving people greater control may be commendable but the flipside of all this is an explosion of information and choice. In reaction to this information overload, a demand for ‘quiet’ products and services has emerged that are attempting to reduce the amount of background noise in our lives.
Paying a premium for fewer features and intelligent choices made on your behalf have become important to people looking for ways to regain control of their lives. There are services that carefully curate collections of clothes  to liberate us from endless online browsing and services that take the effort out of holiday planning  by providing three hassle-free holidays a year through an annual subscription. You can even find services that provide a breakup service .
In western cultures particularly, there has been a shift away from defining ourselves by what we own in favour of what we do and experience. It would seem that experiences become more important as we become more disillusioned by the superficial instant gratification that purchasing ‘stuff’ brings to our lives. Society encourages us to feel dissatisfied with our lives, and that happiness lies in our next purchase. ‘Retail Therapy’ will only ever provide temporary happiness that growing numbers of people are shunning in favour of more meaningful and authentic ways to live a rewarding life.
People are searching for ways to declutter and simplify their lives to spend more time ‘in the moment’. For instance, ‘off-grid’ holidays that encourage ‘boredom’ and fashion brands that only offer a single style per garment. In effect, we are dematerialising our lives so that we can focus on what is important to us. People are willing to own less if they can access what they want when they want it. We can now watch movies, listen to music and read books without the need to own anything physical.