The majority of the workforce in the developed world consists of knowledge workers who are confronted with computers in between them. The problem of degradation of the knowledge worker is briefly reviewed, before focus is given to the attention economy as a relevant context for the issue of degradation. The notion "atten-tion space" is introduced and as part of the attention space the "attentional commons" is identified. Based on economic analysis, it is derived that the attentional commons shows properties which are typical for the rise of the so called "tragedy of the commons". The degradation of the knowledge worker is identified as the actual tragedy of the attentional commons. Potential avenues leading to a solution of the tragedy in form of mar-ket-, norms- and organization-based approaches are discussed.