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Driven by Distraction




Can you make it through this short post without looking at your phone, email or instant messenger?

I wondered if I could write the post without doing any of those things.


In short, I couldn’t. 


I’ll describe the sensations live.


Writing this is demanding my brain concentrate. I need to focus and have some ideas. My first response is “you don’t have any good ideas”. A good start.


Now, naturally this makes me feel a little uneasy. This unease starts in the pit of the stomach. Akin to nausea. Or Sambuca.


My first response is to run from this feeling. To distract myself from it so I don’t feel it anymore.


What’s the best way of doing that? A notification would do nicely. A big red circle, with a number proudly showing how many distractions it has ready for me.


Without even knowing I’m doing it, I pull my mouse to the bottom of the screen. I was actively trying not to, and I still did it. Luckily, billy-no-mates over here has no notifications. I come back to writing.


Some new emotions now. Some guilt, some shame with just a touch of frustration at oneself. A whole host of responses I could pin around the ‘have you no damn self-control?’ thought process. Needless to say, I do not feel more confident in my ideas.


And all the other distraction possibilities are running through my head. News websites, Youtube, Wikipedia. They’re all so easy. And so tantalising.


John Cleese tells of how he wrote Monty Python. He would lock himself in a room with only a pen and pencil. He would get bored. He would get so bored that his brain would attempt to fill the boredom. With ideas. An appropriate response.


Meanwhile, I genuinely just checked my phone again. When writing the denouement of a blog about getting distracted.


Which makes me ask: how many self-destructive responses are going unnoticed? How many ideas are being lost? How much guilt and shame are these distractions driving us too?


We need to look at how the world has changed, and how it has changed us.

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