A Mechanism of Attraction for Our Times

 Not long ago, I personally carried out a survey by asking different age groups what was the first thing that came up to their minds when the word attraction was mentioned. Surprisingly, the range of received answers revolved mostly around either true romanticism, relationships and magnetism- in an infrequent case. Consequently, these inconclusive answers encouraged me to explore in a more comprehensive way our current mechanism of attraction and how our social behaviour is inevitably influenced by a “conception factory”.  


When “moving pictures” were first introduced to the public, such as the one of The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station (1896), they were thought to be impossible and frightening. Nonetheless, with the proliferation in the developments of technology, movies, series and so on “moving pictures” have now become common and been broadly produced to a point where the ascertainable becomes the indeterminable. In actual fact, movies, films and series have a long-lasting impact on children’s learning and on how our concepts, namely attraction, are being shaped. Psychologically, imitative learning has been long researched and seen as a major source in not only childhood but also adulthood development under the theory of mirror neurons. Unnoticeably, we or our brains have been naturally programmed through evolution, where our own eyes started to have the ability to identify certain pattern including facial expressions, to imitate or mimic the expressions or feelings from the person being intentionally targeted and simultaneously anticipate our future situational possibilities. In extension, this is where we exchange information and selectively choose the sectors which best match our “able to adjust” logics and then, explicitly turn it into our self-perception.


In regard to the so-called “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 on at the cinema or series on other applications like Netflix, Sky and so on, many people will tend to watch them seeking for their own “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 the 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 romanticisms, 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: minimising 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 man kind. 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