Escapism for the Disillusioned

9 Oct , 2005  

This post is actually something that I wrote over a year ago. I am clearing out my saved posts in WordPress and found this one and many others. Of all the little snippets of posts that are not finished, this one looks mostly complete, so I figured I would publish it. It is still interesting to think about.

I can play video games for hours, I can read a book for hours, I can watch movies for hours, watch a good television show for hours, and generally get caught up in worlds which are not real at all for hours at a time with little thought of reality around me. Normally, and throughout my life, I haven’t given it a single thought … but while trying to create a comprehensive philosophy for myself, I arrive at a paradox of sorts.

See, there is some common sense to realizing that living in a fantasy world is bad for you. Medical professionals sometimes call it a “peter pan complex” and it can get quite serious. The most extreme examples are highly mentally unstable, creating entire worlds within their own minds as illusions. Most of us can say, well that will never be me. However, upon closer inspection of our lives we run into a problem.

If I play a computer game for 6 hours a day, everyday, for months, that is pretty extreme. A large portion of my day would be in a fantasy world outside of reality (for the most part). Most contemporary critics would say this is bad for you. Hell, China is actually making it political policy to limit playing of online games. Now, not to turn this into a “games vs. tv” debate, right now it may be more socially acceptable to watch 6 hours of TV a day, but it is still the same kind of escape. Either way our minds are engrossed in a fantasy world for entertainment. These might be extreme examples, but add up the time you spend each day and you may be surprised.

I have read articles by people saying we need to limit this kind of behavior. It makes sense if you don’t really think about it in depth. Just kill the bad and ignore the why, after all it’s the American way. Just think, however, where the bulk of the average American’s time goes. To work. You work 8 hours a day, usually close to 10 hours with travel and preparation time. Are you in the real world while you are working? Surely you aren’t being entertained … so it must be the real world, and the real world is good, right? Not exactly, on both counts. You work 8 hours a day to provide for yourself, your family, to “get ahead” like every American thinks is their destiny to do. Every generation must do better than the last! Where does it end? Has anyone really thought it through? Just what the hell is real anyway? Where do you draw the line? The experts say that escapism is bad, and that it keeps us away from the real world, the world that is important and right, the world that makes sense.

What a bunch of bullshit. Does anyone think about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and where it is all going? I have, and really when you think about the real world, escapism doesn’t sound too bad. How do you change a government that never seems to get it? How do you get all the countries of the world to actually accomplish global tasks that must be done? How do you stop capitalism from widening the gap between poor and rich, impoverishing millions every year across the globe? How do you stop murder, genocide, crime, disease, famine, terrorism, etc, etc on a global scale? Every year it does get worse, even though many don’t see it on the micro level, it happens on a macro level, globally.

What’s the point of all this? You can’t fix it. We have seen hundreds of movies and books on government corruption and big business, yet it still happens. We have seen countless studies on the links of race, gender, etc on income levels, and yet the problem remains. We see thousands of animal and plant species go extinct every year, and the people that can do something do not care. There are reasons none of these things get fixed, and it usually boils down to money. I am not saying they are even fixable, as if they were not so complicated, they would be fixed by now. However, human beings have a nasty habit of waiting until we hit that wall at full speed until something is done. Then it becomes a “crisis” or a “disaster” and everyone says, “how did this happen?” and people like me can say, “I told you so.”

There are two primary types of people. People that escape reality because they want to, and people who escape reality without knowing it. The former person asks “why?” at every opportunity and makes a decision to escape because they want to escape a life where the “why?” is endless. The latter person never asks “why?” and follows the herd in a life they have never even attempted to understand.

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