Don’t Let Yourself be Hijacked!
You don’t need a guy with a gun to capture you and spirit you away to where you would rather not be!
Would you like to be car-jacked?
A guy with a gun comes up to you when you are stopped at a traffic light, motions to you to unlock the car, slides into the passenger seat, and makes you drive to a deserted locale miles away and then …..
I leave the rest to your imagination.
I venture to say that this is not an experience you would enjoy. Certainly not one you would want to happen to you.
But, absent the guy with the gun, something like this happens to you all the time.
You come home from a hard day’s work and turn on the idiot box. Netflix has a new thriller and you learnt about it from an email with a tantalizing subject line that indicated it was just for you.
Fifteen minutes in and you realize that the best part of the thriller was the ad that promoted it. Inertia makes you finish the movie and you wish you had not.
There are a ton of things you could have done that would have paid better dividends. You could have meditated. Finished that book you were deep into. Organized your notes for the big meeting. Called your parents. Chatted with your good friend with whom you have lost touch.
But you watched that lousy thriller and you did not even enjoy it.
You were hijacked.
Cognoscenti talk about the ‘attention economy’.
This is simply a fancy way of saying that everybody wants you to notice what they would like you to.
Politicians make outrageous statements and are openly combative. The more they rant, the more persons pay attention to them Some cheer and egg them on. Some get affronted.
But everyone notices them.
They are the ‘winners’ in the attention economy.
You are the loser. You let your emotional domain be hijacked by some else’s agenda.
You were sad or angry or appalled or horrified or infuriated because that was what someone wanted you to be.
It is also possible to be enlightened, inspired or uplifted but this is rare.
Strong negative emotions create a vortex into which you are easily sucked. That is why newscasts always feature some tragedy in some part of the world. The anchor gravely describes the horror. He – or she – may seem to be saying ‘tut-tut’ but is actually promoting this anxiety.
It is not common to hear about something that is going well, something that lifts your spirits.
Check this out for yourself. Watch one week of your favorite news program and tabulate the number of stories that leave you feeling morose about the state of the world versus the number that leave you feeling energized and full of hope.
I rest my case.
This sad situation has been so for decades. What is new today is the number of ways in which you can be assaulted.
That is the contribution of social media.
There is a simple way out of this morass. You can struggle out of the quicksand.
The tool to use is ‘deliberate intent’.
Deliberate intent means that you choose the emotional domain which you occupy. If you do not do this, others will happily choose for you. They have been doing it all along and will continue.
So, if the domain you decide to occupy is one of tranquil contemplation, you will pay no attention to Netflix blandishments and you will not watch that junk thriller.
I will say more about this in my next column.