Would you work for 13 cents an hour?

In my job as a architectural project manager I continuously stress to people that they have to value their time. When a client asks you to do significant work that was not in the original contract you have to request additional fee to cover your time. If you do the work for free you have just established the value of your time is zero.

Yesterday’s blog explained how the social media apps use your instincts against you to keep you coming back multiple times a day and then mindlessly scrolling your sleep time away. The average person spends nearly two hours a day on social media, surfing the Internet or playing games on their phone. For the purpose of this post we’ll refer to all of these activities collectively as social media. If you want to know how much time you are spending on an app, or category of apps, use the screen time or digital wellbeing feature on your phone.

What is the value of two hours additional time in your day to you? Let’s examine a couple scenarios.

  1. If you spend two hours a night on your phone you could replace that time with a part time job. For easy math let’s say that job pays $8 an hour. So if you worked that job only on week nights, that’s ten hours a week or $80 a week for fifty weeks. You still want some vacation time, right? That shakes out to $4,000 a year.
  1. For the next example let’s pretend you value your time at the same rate you get paid at work. For easy math let’s say you make $52,000 a year. That’s $1,000 a week for 40 hours, or $25 per hour. Using our fifty week example from above that comes to $12,500 a year.

So where do you value your free time? Somewhere between $8 and $25 an hour? Perhaps you have such limited free time that you value an hour even higher than $25.

The point is that you, and billions of other people, are taking time that you value at $8-$25 an hour and giving it away to Facebook, Google, and Twitter. In the attention economy they then sell your time to advertisers for pennies an hour.

The average user earned Facebook $24.96 in advertising revenue in 2018. If that person spends just 45 minutes per weekday on Facebook that comes to 13.3 cents per hour in our 50 week example.

Finally, let’s look at this from a different perspective. How much would you pay to use Facebook? Few of us would pony up The $12,500, but many of us would probably pay $24.96 a year to remove those annoying advertisements from our feed. With ad revenue rising nearly 25% per year don’t expect to see this offered anytime soon.

Now you know know what your time is worth to Facebook, et al. What is your time worth to you? Surely it’s more than thirteen cents an hour.

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