The Skiing Analogy

Apologies for writing about such a middle class activity, but one of the most fascinating things I learned about the human brain I learned in a skiing lesson.

Basically, it’s this: DO NOT LOOK AT THE THING YOU WANT TO AVOID.

It’s fascinating because it’s a clear reminder that the little dialogues in our heads are nothing in comparison to the ape-like urges. However much we look at a rock and say to ourselves, “See that rock? We need to go round that,” chances are that we’ll hit it.

And it applies everywhere. Look at social media. The Daily Mail publishes something typically dreadful and we all talk about it; we show our disgust for The Apprentice by watching it and talking about it; there’s a hashtag about failings in the NHS and we make it trend by complaining about it. Yes, I do all these things.

Social media make us keep skiing into rocks when we should be concentrating on the clear paths, the better discussions, the more valuable uses of our time. Making things better. Making better things.

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5 comments
  1. I do try to avoid all links to articles in certain tabloids, and to avoid mentioning them. Every mention and click is helping them to be more profitable and to spread the views of a very few illiberal people across our country and wider.

  2. I’ve seen this beautifully demonstrated during a hang gliding lesson, the aftermath of five simple words “don’t look at the tree” was hysterical…

  3. Annemcx said:

    It’s called object fixation, it is possible to be obsessed with it? What’s the antidote? Can we design one do you think?

  4. Ah, the “law of attraction”: we don’t look where we are going, we go where we are looking.

    There is no antidote or need for one. It’s a mechanism, it’s how we roll. It can be used to go where we want to go, simply by looking intently at the destination and at the route to get there.

    You will go wherever you are looking, you won’t be able to stop yourself.

  5. I had a similar thing while learning to drive.
    “Do you see that pedestrian?”
    “What, that one?”
    “DON’T DRIVE AT HIM!”

    But back to social media…

    Yes, you’re right. Social is a way to spread the “OMG Did you see THAT!” vibe which prompts our human curiosity.

    However, it’s also good for sharing great stuff, helping us do bigger and better things.

    This blog is social media, but it’s not a rock that I’ve crashed into…

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