A Mechanism of Attraction for Our Times

A Mechanism of Attraction for Our Times

Not long ago, I carried out a personal survey asking different age groups “What is the first thing that comes to your minds when I mention the word attraction” . Surprisingly, the answers I received centred around either romance or relationships. These inconclusive answers encouraged me to explore how we understand attraction and how our social behaviour is influenced by a “conception factory”.

When The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station, was first released in 1896, the audience found it impossible and frightening. This was one of the first-ever “moving pictures” introduced to the public. But as technology has advanced, movies and series have become a part of our lives that we take for granted. They are so widely produced and consumed that we are no longer aware of how they influence us. In actual fact, movies, films and series have a long-lasting impact on children’s learning. In particular, they shape our concepts, especially those of love and attraction. The theory of mirror neurons shows that imitative learning greatly influences childhood development and affects us into adulthood. Our brains are naturally programmed to imitate or mimic the expressions or feelings of the people we see around us, while simultaneously anticipate our future situations and influencing our self-perception.

The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station  (1896) - one of the first ever “moving pictures'“.

The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station (1896) - one of the first ever “moving pictures'“.

In regard to “motion pictures”, despite such rewarding comforts it gives out, we as abstract entities might have been unobservantly deceived into a “conception factory” operating under its own nature of constructability. Whenever, there is a new movie Netflix, we watch it, seeking a “moment of delight”, the initial reaction that is most encountered would be very likely to be the synthetic state “self-characterisation”, which means virtually creating their simulation of moods and feelings helping them to adapt to the flow of the film. What I found absurdly amusing is that we are possibly no longer able to conceptualise the excessive data received from those cinematographic products by ourselves, but instead receive as if it has been made ready and let it transform our affectionate mindset into a stereotypical “prototype”. Imaginarily, when we eat, many of us tend to plan what to have and decide out of the various lists of nutrients being taken per meal so as to retain the stability in our health status. On the contrary, as for the case aforementioned, we are actually consuming “ready meals”, which we think are alimentary but have a negatively adverse effect on us. In lieu of enhancing our perception and thoughts, we are indiscernibly trapped in an “attraction bubble”. Of course, a mere assumption but undeniable!

    To creative minds, the bubble can be seen as a two-dimensional circular shape, and surrounding its infinite circumference is what we may refer to of attraction naming based on its consecutive level of repetition collected from my mini-survey: physical appearance, romanticism, long-lasting relationship, rarely magnetism and only one out of the 42 survey respondents mentioned the attraction occurring among particles, which is curiously fascinating. And the centre of the bubble is our cognitive minds, particularly in learning and perceiving ability. In the modern day, we can understand and are able to successfully apply the theory of algorithms, an intelligent calculation in computer science. One of its features is to do with the internet, editing in and out information, search results based on our favourable interests, to be more specific it shows or makes us receive what it thinks we want to, however, arguably not what we need to see. Similarly, movies and novels, millions of which have been published or are being produced competitively, this is one of the major factors that decides what makes up our concepts in today life. It manifests the stereotypical or fixed mindset contents and gradually makes us change and metamorphose those of our owns. Wherefore, it is considered requisitely essential to be taken into account when we attempt to define “attraction”. As an example, regarding the outcomes from movies and novels, we are now attracted to variable types of romanticism, which is not fully and realistically illustrated through TV screens and reading materials. Apart from that, many films and series support the idea that women are supposedly drawn to certainly listed types of men, mainly on physical appearance relatively proving that the survey has produced an approximately accurate result. Accordingly, it prevents us from acknowledging what is outside of the bubble in this case, what brings two people as friends, lovers or in any other relationships together.


       This has taken my point to a reformed structure of the bubble. Although it is “ameliorated”, the components and interpretation of the circumference remain unchanged, only the core of the bubble has been turned from the cognitive minds to something just as common and simple as love. Unfortunately, what we fail to see is that this new bubble also has a new feature decided by our human behavioural development within a society: minimizing its own volume through time. To further explain, in the old days, miraculously, the way we factorised “attraction” was very distinctive, in the replacement of physical appearance and romanticism, which might have been vaguely conducted in films and novels as mentioned above are the factors of care, responsibility, respect and knowledge. All of the elements are not completely being aware of by the modern mankind. I fearfully wonder “Will this bubble continue to shrink and will it carry on, so often, so much that real love” becomes harder and more challenging to attain and then “Pop!”, the bubble explodes, love falls into an unfathomable abyss and slowly vanishes, what left are just hopes or tyrannical form of devotion such as illusions. Perhaps, that was why Erich Fromm – a great German psychoanalyst claimed in his book The Art of Loving: “genuine love” is now considered a rare achievement in latter-day society because humans are alienated from each other and from nature.


       Such a common and uninvolved topic does “attraction” seem to be, it became a notoriously difficult challenge to me in relation to redefining the term itself. Nonetheless, regardless how metaphysical and intricate it is, “attraction” can be expounded as simply as “existence”. Without existence, how can group particles A willingly interact with group particles B within their own gravitational field? Without existence, how should our brains adjust themselves to favour the idea of what the society has developed to or is leaning towards, which brandishes a conformist trait left by generations? Without existence, how should we define attraction and can we be attracted to something at all? In order to refrain from such traps and patterns, one must seek individualistic notions specifically in term of attraction under the criteria of considering the substantially comprehensive existence so as to preserver the true meaning and existential values of love but not an illusory likeness phenomenon occurring among individuals in present-time civilisation.

This Article was written by Tom Tung Nguyen