I THINK THERE is such a thing as a good distraction and a bad distraction. A Good distraction is when you’re still able to remain connected with your environment despite outside interferences. Also, a good distraction is something that does not hinder, but invites, authentic engagement with the people around you. On the flip side, a bad distraction is something that not only distracts you from important, momentary pleasures but it robs you of the chance to form real, concrete relationships with the people in your environment.
If good distractions and bad distractions are real, concrete things that can hinder or enhance our relationships, then why is it that some people choose the bad over the good? And whatever the reason may be, how can we, as individuals and as a society, encourage people to be less distracted?
Distractions are nothing new. We can go as far back in time as we want to and, at each point in history, we would discover that people were preoccupied with one thing or the other. Thus, what this tells us, is that distractions are prelims of human existence.
Although distractions are prelims of human existence, depending on what time period people are in, however, can determine the intensity-level in which people are distracted. For example, when we look back to the 1960s, during the peak of the hippie movement, what we see is that a lot of people were not as distracted as they are today. Back then, there were no smartphones and no social media to distract people from important issues.
And although they had the Vietnam war, Civil Rights, and the Space Race with the Soviet Union to worry about, they were still able to come together to agree on certain things, like protesting the Vietnam war, listening to the Beatles and fighting for the environment. Granted, the economy was a lot stabler back then than it is today; social welfare programs had just started, and the federal government had increased its spending, we cannot overlook the fact that, despite outside interferences, people were still able to form meaningful connections.
Fast forward to the present moment, and distractions are not what they used to look like in the 1960s. Today, the type of distractions that we have not only prevents us from being hip to how people around us might be feeling, and to some of the important issues of the day, but they also have the added bonus of real, economic losses attached to them. Today, even something as harmless as being distracted on social media costs our economy $650 billion dollars in lost productivity. In other words, the more time you spend on social media the lesser the economy stands to benefit.
Seeing that both our interpersonal relationships and our economies stand to lose when we are distracted, what we now need, more than ever, is a reimagination of what it means to be distracted in a good way. On the surface, that sounds like an oxymoron, that is; how can being distracted actually be a good thing? and that’s true. But, when we look deeper, however, we can see that there are real, tangible outcomes for good distractions.
A good distraction is when you set your phone down and allow yourself the chance to wonder and connect with your environment. Secondarily, good distractions are great for not only fostering mindfulness but they are also great for fostering creativity, and creativity often leads to solutions. What this means is that people in the 1960s were onto something, that is; by allowing themselves to be distracted in a good way, they were able to agree on creative solutions that ended up changing the society in which they lived in.
We, in this generation, are certainly entitled to that same potential so long as we begin to choose good distractions over the bad distractions. But how do we encourage people to choose the good over the bad? It’s no secret, that when it comes to making positive choices, people will choose the bad over the good. One simple reason people do that is because the bad is convenient and sometimes more inexpensive than the good. To change that, though, we need to introduce them to posts like these. Another idea is to create educational programs, lectures, and seminars about the good, the bad, and the ugly of distractions.
The economic cost of using social media; Masahabe.com
U.S., economy during the 1960s -1970s; Years of Change
Three reasons you should let yourself get distracted; Fast Economy