9 Ways to ‘Rewild Your Attention’

How to inject more weirdness and randomness into the stuff you read and see

Clive Thompson
Published in
9 min readOct 29, 2021


Forest,” by Jennifer C.

Back in August, I wrote about the concept of “rewilding your attention” — why it’s good to step away from the algorithmic feeds of big social media.

I’d originally encountered the idea via a tweet by Tom Critchlow, referencing a post by CJ Eller, riffing off an essay by Ali Montag. You can go read my original essay, but basically the concept was that the algorithms in big-tech feeds have two problems…

  • they focus heavily on the hot viral here-and-now: what highly popular folks are talking and arguing about, this very instant. And they focus on…
  • material that’s customized for you — except it’s a dull, Demographics 101 cartoon of who you are and what you’re interested in

Either way, spending too much time in the big algorithmic feeds winds up being a form of intellectual monocropping. It’s not terribly diverse or surprising. It’s not that the stuff in your feeds is all bad; some of it’s great! But it’s got a deadening sameness to it.

So the concept of “rewilding your attention” means actively choosing to poke around elsewhere. As I wrote…

Instead of crowding your attention with what’s already going viral on the intertubes, focus on the weird stuff. Hunt down the idiosyncratic posts and videos that people are publishing, oftentimes to tiny and niche audiences. It’s decidedly unviral culture — but it’s more likely to plant in your mind the seed of a rare, new idea.

Okay, cool. But…

How exactly do you “rewild your attention”?

I talked about this with a bunch of folks online, then realized it might be interesting to share my own strategies.

Forthwith, my list of 9 Ways to Rewild Your Attention!

Quickly, though, two throat-clearing provisos:

First, this is just my own personal list of Things I Do. Give ’em a try if you’d like, but they may not work for you. They’re very text-heavy. I prefer to skim through lots of sources until something catches my attention — then I dive in. Since I find skimming/diving harder with audiovisual media, I stick…



Clive Thompson
Writer for

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”. @clive@saturation.social clive@clivethompson.net