The seductive power of distraction

Posted by Gina Rosenthal in diversity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment



  1. A thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.
  2. A diversion or recreation.

We live in incredible times. We have this incredible technology –  one that is increasingly affordable to everyone – that has the power to connect the world. One that has the power to make the world a better place. But more and more, it seems like what we really use these connective technologies for is distraction.

Yesterday, Chris Brogan tweeted this:


 But…what if that 90% of the news that makes us think “what the hell is WRONG with people” is really a distraction that keeps us from asking the questions about the problems we face as a global society? Questions that require the input of every segment of society in order to solve? If all of the “news” inputs we receive are actually designed to distract us from the real problems we should be tackling, what sort of danger does that put us in?

Mainstream news is distraction. Tell me, how may of you know that Monsanto is pushing a bill through US Congress that will require the USDA to approve the harvest and sale of crops from genetically modified seed even if a court has ruled the environmental studies on the crop were inadequate? That there is a pipeline being built from Canada to Texas to transport oil dredged from tar pits, endangering a huge water aquifer that most of the midwest depends upon for water? That Canada’s Bill C-45 – the bill that sparked the Idle No More movement – removed protections from Canada’s waterways – going from protecting 30K+ lakes to 97 lakes?

Y’all there’s lots to talk about. Why are we still talking about Kardashians? Donald Trump’s hair? Bacon?

My friend Susan says that diversity is when all of the questions  – from every culture – are considered. She told me this when I told her about a Twitter conversation I had with two of the smartest people I’ve ever met. The conversation was about robots of all things.  More specifically, how robots are becoming sophisticated enough to do human jobs – ones that we never could have imagined relegating to machines. And they believe this is just the next evolution of things that its inevitable. (This topic deserves a blog post of its own – so stay tuned).

To which I asked WHY is it inevitable? Because that’s the next pattern of the last three hundred years or so? Because its the next logical step for a colonialistic, industrialized society? Do we really believe the majority of people are ok with robots taking care of the nurturing duties now provided by health aides. Nurses, doctors, etc? Is this just a cost effective method of providing care?

Are we getting to the point that we are supposed to just accept that we – normal folk – are the product on the assembly line of life? That we just exist to fit into a P&L report that benefits only a few?

This idea of distraction leeks into every part of my life. I’ve always had my kids to keep me balanced – if they had issues, I’d cut out all distractions (that I had) until I got them stabilized. Work is the same way – things are incredibly busy, there is so much to do. But if it doesn’t help a customer, it’s not worth my time right now.

And more and more, I’m not satisfied with the information I receive. I’m not ok if someone does not let me challenge an accepted way of thinking. If I’m told that there is something wrong with me because I dare to challenge the status quo.

My children’s future, my grandchildren’s future (you know the ones that will be born in ten years or so…)  are at stake. I’ve been given an amazing opportunity, and I can’t squander it to make other people feel comfortable.

I have a responsibility to fight against the distractions of having enough. To remind people there are still more questions to hear.



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