Siri…What is a Distraction?
By Gavin Gill | Tennessee Regional Manager
"Siri... What is the definition of distraction?"
"Well, Merriam Webster states, that distraction is something that distracts: an object that directs one's attention away from something else."
"Thank you, Siri!"
Distractions come in many shapes and forms. Teachers tell students to stop paying attention to their friends so that they learn from the lesson taught. Parents are telling their kids to stop paying attention to the television while they are talking to them. Or drivers are checking their notifications from texts from friends, to Tik Tok, to Instagram, or the many other apps that are constantly running in the background.
Aren't you distracted??...
Before telling you this wonderful and humorous story, I want to preface it with this. I was a troublemaker from 6th grade to 12th grade until I walked across the graduation stage. Growing up the way I did, now helps me relate to students today. PLEASE, if you are a student, I highly encourage you not to do this!
Let me take you back to when I was in High School… During this time in my life, I was living my best life. During that time, I was surrounded by many friends, had a little High School sweetheart, and best yet, I was happy. Remember all of those details for later. Well, one day, I was walking my girlfriend to class and talking to her about a bunch of stuff that I don't remember. Well, back then, we had five minutes to get from one class to the other. If you were late, you were tardy, and with enough tardy offenses, detention came next. Of course, my class was on the other side of the school from where I was with my girlfriend and had already used up my tardy marks for the year. So, what do I do to get out of getting yet another tardy from my English teacher?
Well… I used the power of distraction!!
The classroom was set up with the entrance at the front of the room, right next to the wall with the whiteboard on it and the teacher's desk facing all the students in their desks. My desk was three rows in and the middle desk in that row, as well. I knew the layout of the room. It was time for me to risk it for the hope of not get put in detention after school. As I made my approach to the room entrance, I saw that my English teacher was busy giving instructions for the day. Where was she standing? The teacher was standing in front of her desk, which was in the front of the classroom. I knew there was room between the back of her desk and the wall with the whiteboard for my next move.
What was my next move? I got down on my hands and knees to crawl quietly and quickly behind her and her desk. She did not notice me, but many of my classmates did. Once I was behind the desk, I started to make my way around to the desk's far side as she was giving instructions. Moments passed, and then she began to turn around to get papers ready on her desk behind her. At this moment, I realized all my effort was lost if I did not make my move toward my desk. As I made my move, the teacher told everyone to stand up and retrieve a paper from the desk. That is when I immediately stood up and acted like I was there 10 minutes prior.
So wait… who was distracted??...
I was. The teacher was. All the students in that classroom were. I was distracted by a high school girlfriend and all my friends who wanted to chat in the school's hallways. These distractions made me late on many occasions, to the point where I was about to be in detention. The teacher was distracted with teaching the students that got to class when they were supposed to and did not notice another student behind her crawling to avoid detention. Lastly, all the students in the classroom were. Half of them were distracted with watching to see if I was going to get caught. The other half were interested in what the teacher was teaching and giving instructions. In conclusion, everyone was distracted in this story.
And you are telling me this why??...
I am telling this story to relate it to what the month of April represents, Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The power of being distracted without even realizing it is a real issue in today's world. Take a moment just to count how many things are currently around you that would distract you from reading this? I count ten items, with one of those items being a cell phone with notifications that are turned on and active regularly. Let's think about this now, imagine you are driving to McDonald's, how many things from where you are to there would distract you? I would count enough to make it very dangerous to drive if I paid attention to any of them. Did you know that 1 in 5 of the people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2018 were not in the vehicles? Those individuals were out walking, riding their bikes, or just enjoying their time outside the car. (source CDC)
Distractions can be visual where there is something on the road or happening off the road that catches the driver's attention. Distractions can be manual. Phones, the radio, make-up, friends, or passengers can all be a manual distraction. Lastly, distractions can be cognitive. Our minds love to think and wander when watching TV on the couch or driving in the car. Daydreaming and driving do not mix. All these distractions cause crashes. Crashes that could or might be fatal to you or others.
So how do I not be so distracted??...
BE PRESENT. Being present is not just in everyday life or when you are with your family or friends. Being present when behind the wheel of a car will make getting from point A to point B safer for everyone. Let the notifications on your phone build up. Pullover to watch whatever is happening off to the side of the roadway. Do not drive if you are not in a good mental state. The power of distraction is natural for every human, whether you are the distractor or the one being distracted. Knowing how to solve not being distracted is where you want to be… and that is BEING PRESENT.