I have always wanted to learn magic to add something extra to my speaking sessions. In the process of understanding the magic effects I wanted to use, I learned that a KEY technique of magic is distraction. Much of magic is executed without the audience seeing it, because the magician has distracted the audience from the logistics of the effect.
This distraction is a form of manipulation. In this case, it is to entertain.
If you consider the age-old “psychic” or “medium”, you would notice they use exactly the same technique. The magician’s skill of cold-reading combined with a splatter of patter is simply a distraction to ensure that you don’t see that their predictions reflect the basic human condition and fit you too. It ensures you don’t measure the number of misses and guide you to focus on the (very) occasional hits they are able to stumble upon. Don’t underestimate their ability to snow you.
This distraction is a form of manipulation. In this case, it is to relieve you of your money.
Stop and stand some time in Times Square NYC. The visual noise is quite unbelievable, and the number of larger screens being added each year is exponential. Each of the “movies” displayed are intended to get you to pay attention and to succumb to whatever they are advertising. They MUST distract you from all the other visual noise to appeal to your short attention span.
This distraction is a form of manipulation. In this case, it is to convince you to believe that their product or service is better than the rest and relieve you of your money..
TV ads have a normal length of 30 seconds. Some are as short as 10 seconds and the most “effective” are designed to be 15 seconds. They are all designed to divert your attention from the program at hand, and offer you something incredible that you definitely need – right now. You’ve felt this before – an ad comes on and soon after, you have a craving for chicken wings or a soda or….
This distraction is a form of manipulation. In this case, it is to direct you to buy, buy, buy and relieve you of your money..
There are several TV ads that last much much longer than the “standard”. These are the ones that attempt to tell a story about sick children or abandoned pets or… They work on your conscience and your emotions to make you feel sorry for the target of the ad. Your guilt heightens and you are distracted from the program in progress. Even if you don’t immediately donate, they have found a place in your subconscious that will rear its head at an opportune moment when you are more prone to donate.
This distraction is a form of manipulation. In this case, it is an appeal to your emotions and guilt and relieve you of your money.
And, there is the social media rabbit hole distraction. Surfing the web means we are subject to shiny things at every click/tap. One video or meme leads to another, to another, to another. Deeper down the hole we go, and when we look up and breathe, minutes or hours have passed. If we were to record the number of hours we are distracted from our job, from our chores, from our family, from our friends, from our duties, I believe our minds would be blown.
This distraction is a form of manipulation. In this case, it is to drive you to a place where you can be subject to advertising and…. relieve you of your money.
Of course, there is politics. The current culture allows opinion-profferers to hide the facts and suggest that something else is happening. With repetition, the story (the conspiracy) becomes a fact in people’s heads and their worldview is directed and modified to be afraid of something. Individuals are distracted from the truth and kept in a bubble of misinformation. This forces division into society.
This distraction is a form of manipulation. In this case, it is to stoke your fear and relieve you of your vote.
Watch parents deal with their children for perfect examples of distraction. As an uncle, I learned early that a crying child might be soothed in one of several ways. The most effective was to distract them from whatever had kickstarted their wailing. Some of my favorite social media movies are of kids throwing tantrums and an adult finding something that breaks the cycle and turns the kid around.
This distraction is a form of manipulation. In this case, it is to address a situation that may become disruptive.
Distraction, in all its forms, is rampant and harmful in our world. While there are moments where distraction is innocuous, it is. more often than not, destructive. The common theme of all these distractions is they they are purposeful. Because they are, of a majority, manipulative, it is up to us to detect and defend. It all comes down to identifying and being aware of the distraction and its purpose. Awareness does take some discipline, however, the more we practice it, the less distraction will be destructive and the more productive we will be in our world.