Our times have been dubbed the “Age of Distraction,” and I was recently reminded of how potentially perilous distraction can be, especially for pedestrians! I was driving to CNN and I was on the phone talking to a potential client about presentation topics. I was so engrossed that I literally didn’t notice the police officer at the crosswalk, telling me to stop.
He pulled me over and gave me a very stern warning. In that moment, I realized how easy it is to become distracted and to lose focus on what’s right in front of you. I was mortified, and thankful that I hadn’t hit anyone.
The experience made me aware of how often we forget to focus. Not only can this tendency be dangerous, but it can also sabotage our interpersonal relationships, particularly when we make others feel that they are not getting our full attention.
Maya Angelou put it so well when she said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The point is, people often feel that they are not being heard. And, as Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, has written, “The feeling that ‘no one is listening to me’ makes us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us.”
To some extent, we are all guilty of the sin of distraction. In our contemporary world, where there are so many stimuli, it takes extra effort to focus on the task at hand.