Addicted Distraction

Feb 28, 2016 by

Addicted Distraction
Addicted Distraction

Excuse me, but have you been distracted lately? You know gazing into your phone … just because (not that there is anything really pressing). Or mindlessly watching TV, mindlessly surfing the internet, mindlessly … Are you, me, all of us addicted to distraction?

What does it really mean to be distracted? What does it really mean to take your focus off of the moment right in front of you and put it somewhere else? What does it really mean to let your environment unconsciously take you away from where you are RIGHT NOW?

We’ve all seen it. A conversation stopped dead in it’s tracks with a text. An intimate moment curtailed by an incoming notification; a Facebook post, a new Instagram photo, an incoming call.

The New Yorker - A New Theory of DistractionThe New Yorker has a great article entitled “A New Theory of Distraction”. The author discusses two theories of distraction: basically external and internal motivations. The first driving home the concept that distraction is built into our daily existence. It’s part of society and truly a part of techno-society. A glamorized life in which technology and its interruptions provide a landscape, a foundation if you will, where those deemed successful in life are constantly distracted.

The second theory is the one I most subscribe to. It is a theory of spirituality. A theory not of religious origins but really out of our own internal struggle to stay present for the moment. A theory where essentially our ego jumps up and starts chattering as soon as we get a glimpse of the true quiet that underlays everything.

Louis C.K. has a very interesting talk with Conan on late night TV. Louis hits the nail on the head in that we “don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard”. The deep down sadness that overcomes us when we realize how big everything else is and how small we are overcomes us and we jump to our distractions.

It is an addiction of sorts in that we don’t even realize we are doing what we are doing. It is mindless. And that is the trick. Distraction in and of itself is not a problem when it is an intentional construct. But when the distraction controls us instead of us controlling the distraction that’s when the damage occurs.

So here’s my question: “What are your addicted distractions costing you?” Are your relationships deteriorating and you don’t even know it? Is your body always last to be focused on because you let your addictions get in the way? What else are you missing out on by not being mindful?

Could you put down the phone, send the call to voicemail, not respond to the text for 30 mins and just mindfully focus on what is important to you? Just once a day? Maybe that will make the difference in being driven by distraction and being driven by a quiet guided consciousness. Between Asleep Unhappiness, and Mindful Awakening.

See you on the wire

— Steven Cardinale

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  1. Priscilla

    I haven’t read you in a long while.

    I smiled when I saw this post in the morning because for the past few weeks I’ve been noticing how social media gets in the way from engaging in a more meaningful way with the world. From reading more at night, from actually calling people like in the good old times, from making real friends in the real world and from a much needed solitude time in the mornings. That’s the reason why, a few weeks ago, I decided to try a little experiment and give up my iPhone for a year. For the next twelve months I want to focus on personal development. Do more reading, laugh more during dinner and pursuit that dance class that I never seem to have the time for, if only my face wasn’t buried on Facebook. Thanks for writing!

    • Steven Cardinale


      I’m glad you enjoyed entry. It’s interesting how addicted we are to distractions. And how society is definitely setup for us to stay that way. There is an interesting book called “Finite and Infinite Games” that talks about positions in a game in which the players are the finite participants (ie. individuals connected to Facebook) and infinite players (Facebook itself) and who wins (ie. Facebook wins by selling more ads each time you view a page). The infinite participants have an incentive to keep the addition alive. And they are well tuned to continue pursuing that incentive.

      So it takes a conscious individual to really take control of their own destiny and decide what is important and follow that True North.

      I meditate (only for about 10-15 mins) in the morning. The days that I meditate I find that I am more able to keep my True North and not let the structures in society control my behaviors (i.e. if in the morning I promise myself to carve out 30 mins to read at night, I tend to keep that promise more so than if I just hope it happens).

      It really all comes down to choice, decisions, actions, and next steps. Which really all boils down to intention. Are you doing something that serves you well and builds cumulative value (i.e reading, growing, etc) or are you distracting yourself.

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