Attraction Meets Distraction


  • Author Dr. Bruce Wilson
  • Published May 23, 2021
  • Word count 463

Attraction Meets Distraction

Bruce Wilson, PhD

An interesting phenomenon is happening in the area of addiction. Distraction is becoming an addiction. We are becoming attracted to being distracted like never before in our history. There are two areas in which distraction is becoming an addiction. Motivation is present both from an internal and external source.

“Never make your attraction the cause of your distraction.”-

Internal distraction emanates from either lacking the ability to attend or lacking interest. The subject at hand is either beyond my ability to stay focused or not worthy of my full attention. Lacking interest or attention leads my mind to look for something else that may fulfill my needs. This occurs on a regular basis online. We start to get into a new subject, either out of interest or studying, and along comes something more interesting or easier to attend to. Advertising and pornography take full advantage of this by creating enticing pop-ups that take us away from where one is to where their products are. Internal distraction is about going away from where we are to an alternatively perceived better option.

Unlike internal distraction, which is reactive to an under-stimulating environment, external distraction eventuates when one is proactively seeking a new interest or an escape from some perceived demand or threat, like homework in high school. External distraction is an intentional rather than an unintentional motivation to seek an alternative situation. One is distracted on purpose and not by accident. The pop-ups are purposely pursued. Are we becoming more and more distracted? Is there an attraction to distraction? Could distraction become an addiction?

“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfilment.” - Hilaire Belloc

Internal and External distractors are constantly at play and interchangeable for those who are pulled into the addiction. One can vacillate between internal and external distraction at random. The addiction arises from the repeatability of distraction and a loss of personal control.

As modern technology tempts us to wander, there will be respite from boredom and stress, however, what is the cost of these distractions? An addiction is defined as a term that identifies a compulsive physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance or behavior. The psychology of distraction demonstrates the potential to metastasise one’s addiction due to availability and repetition.

“Neuroplasticity contributes to both the constrained and unconstrained aspects of our nature. It renders our brains not only more resourceful, but also more vulnerable to outside influences.” – Norman Doidge

Neuroplasticity suggests that a psychological dependency may be even more robust than a physiological dependency. New neuropathways in the brain are being formulated hundreds if not thousands of times a day in our youth population. How will this attraction to distraction playout? Independent thought demands our attention!


Dr. Bruce Wilson is a psychologist with 25 years of experience. He enjoys sharing his ramblings with friends and colleagues. He is currently in private practice at Mind Health Care in Geelong, Australia. This article is solely his work.

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