The Pinata of Distraction

Posted on by

Have you ever watched someone beat up on a piñata? It isn’t something that can be done with much dignity. They are blindfolded, given a stick and pointed in the general direction of something big and brightly coloured. Oblivious to their surroundings, they then rail on the poor, mute, defenceless papier mache construction, all for a bit of candy and the amusement of others. In a way it is just like the ‘change the flag’ debate in Australian politics.

It is almost inevitable that if something worrying, or requiring a controversial or unpopular decision looms on the horizon, there will be a Piñata of Distraction. Something big, shiny and filled with junk that everyone can gleefully beat up on suddenly appears on everyone’s political radar, and commandeers all their attention. Traditionally it is either the republic or the flag in Australia. For those in the United States, I suspect it is flag burning for you. Groups from small committees through to corporations and countries all have their own Piñatas of Distraction for leaders to hang up and point to when there’s something else going they’d rather you didn’t notice.

A Piñata of Distraction is not all bad though. It does distract people from huge problems for which there is no easy or painless solution, and lets them take a whack and get angry at something less intimidating. Why worry about a global economic meltdown if you are about to be given $900? Who cares about looming environmental catastrophe when you can just blame other people’s four-wheel-drives and feel better? Who cares about a rise in unemployment when someone might have got a ute for free?

The Piñata of Distraction is essential for the health and sanity of almost any social group. It ensures that they can continue to function in a productive manner, especially when they are aware that the problems threatening the group are all but unsolvable, due to everyone’s rampant self interest. It is far better to slip on a blindfold, grab a stick, and hope you get to have some candy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *