Art of influence and misdirection

On the eve of another big decision, I’ve been thinking about influence and misdirection quite a bit.

I was reminded of a book and TV series I saw when I was much younger. It was called How to be Cool. Part of the thinking is influence and the theory of memetics. PBS did a series called The Merchants of Cool, although the one I remember included Douglas Rushkoff.

Inception, distraction and the war for your attention


Its been hard keeping on track and not being sucked into all the other things around me. Of course the biggest thing has been the Manchester arena bombing which was shocking and of course ever so sad (especially for those involved or lost their lives to this mindless act of violence). But generally the amount of noise/static, peer/social pressure and people telling you to pay attention to their thing is pretty bad.

Of course this also has a massive bearing on the happiness and wellbeing of people too (feel like I should have been writing this a few weeks ago during mental health awareness week). I’ve watched how colleagues & friends have struggled not to stay distraction free from stuff others have pushed their way. I have offered to help and sometimes suggested removing certain apps or changing certain settings. Sometimes its been useful, sometimes its worked for a short while but theres not the motivation or drive to follow it through.

I totally understand why… heck we’re all human!

It’s not easy, heck there’s a whole industry setup to shift your attention/reality into their world. Some of it is the bubble where you are like Silicon Valley, but also the systems/pressures around us as summed up so well by Tristan Harris and Sherry Turkle. It’s really dark patterns stuff but it’s so ubiquitous we don’t question them. It’s like a friend who messaged me and asked if I was in a place because she couldn’t see me on Whatsapp, or the notion that if it’s not on Spotify it can’t/doesn’t exist. Someone seemed a little puzzled when I mentioned Spotify doesn’t have most music (crazy but true)! Or even when I decided I wasn’t going to do the icebucket challenge.


Once the mind is bought into the system and ultimately their opinionated world, its extremely difficult to leave it. (The book – The confidence game, I’m currently reading which is about cons actually has a bit to say about this all)

Magic Trick

I would actually go as far as to say for all the difficulty of stringing together system and services yourself (like free software/open source/decentralised/federated systems). Its forces you to come up with your own world narrative and thoughts; and I’m very sure independent thinking is critical for wellness, health, self-confidence, resiliency and character!

Its slightly ironic only 9 days ago I was in Sarah Raad’s Gratitude Habit workshop during Thinking Digital Newcastle. I’ve been practicing my gratitudes most days including the Monday night of the Manchester arena bombing. Even been thinking of Tweeting them or Tooing them via Mastodon, because most are not secret or really private. I also want to establish that having a gratitude about places which are not full of nature, noisy and busy is as valid as the typical stuff you imagine when you talk about wellness and health.

yoga sunset

Its the point of independent thought. I’m sure Sarah would say deep down underneath most of this will be common human traits or those of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

La Défense, Paris

I guess the point I’m trying to make is… develop your own mindset and don’t be directed into someone elses. Yes it will be difficult but ever so rewarding in the long run.

Am I losing the ability to be in love? Nope


Tony sent me a link to 10 Reasons Why This Generation Is Losing The Ability To Be In Love. I quoted a few bits from it in my thoughts about narcissism and selfies. But theres much more to be quoted…

My greatest worry is our generation will be looked at as the generation that gave up on love. We date for the sake of dating. The generation that forgot how to love — which is ridiculous. Most people have never had a good understanding of love, just a poor interpretation of it.

I’m not sure why Tony sent this to me but I have thoughts why… you see why as I go through some of the points I think are levelled at me?

We sleep around — a lot.

Although I have dated quite a bit, I don’t sleep around a lot. This is a common misconception when I talk about dating. If I mention serial dater, the first thing which comes to mind is sex.  I won’t even go there about what is sex…

We’re becoming even more egocentric.

Not so…  Although I agree culture is leaning that way, sadly. But its nothing to shrug about, the future is not written.

We date for the sake of dating.

Many people have asked me over and over again, if I date for the sake of dating? Everytime I say something about enjoying dating, mainly because I might be sapiosexual (more about this in the future as I do agree its a little silly but this a bit strong, thanks Tom).

But I do also say, I date because I would like to meet somebody special. Heck in the context of this post, I would like to fall in love again. Feels weird saying that but its true but I’m not scared of doing so. I will look forward to it.

We aren’t fans of making compromises.

I do agree, I don’t like to compromise much but I do understand I do need to compromise. For the person who sweeps me off my seat, I’ll compromise and some.

We believe in fairytale endings.

Nope, I don’t buy it at all. I would say I have come to the realisation that love take a very different path for everybody. This includes non-monogamy too. Wheres the fairytale endings for that? Exactly, don’t believe the hype… silly rabbit!

We’ve been fooled into believing perfection is attainable.

Rubbish, perfection is an illusion. Just like the fairytale endings, being open to more creditable influences and meeting more people, its clear as day whats actually attainable and what is sustainable.

We’re goal driven, but often forget to include our partners in the mix.

I don’t know about this one, I feel this generation is much more collaborative than previous ones. The slow but sure balancing of the sexes also insures both or more partners goals and aspirations are more important than ever before.

Most of us are really bad at loving.

As Haddaway said, What is love?  Although I joke, its a serious question. Love is different for everybody. We have evolved and so has the sense of what love is…  I don’t disagree that the paradox of choice and other factors have made finding love much more complex but millions fall in love everyday. Be it physically or virtually. With one person or multiple people.

On top of that, there are so many different ways to tell our loved one(s) that we love them. From a text message with emoji at the right moment to turning on a light in the connected objects domain.

I think the writer is unfair in the statement that we are really bad at loving.

For me, its not a resistance to fall in love but to get it somewhat right. I listen to my gut reaction a lot more than I use to. Does this mean I don’t have the ability to fall in love? No, it means I will only fall in love when the conditions are right and not for some artificially manufactured reason.