So much is tough and scary at the moment. The realities of climate change and extinction weigh heavy on anyone paying attention. I think we need to escape in our minds sometimes, just in order to cope. The question is, where do we go to escape and what impact does that have on us?
You can escape by watching shallow celebrity distractions, or soap operas full of unreasonable amounts of human unkindness, or fantasies full of violent domination and might being right. You can in fact escape into things that reinforce the approach to life that’s causing all the problems. Tales of competition rather than co-operation. Tales of gratuitous consumption and the toys of the wealthy you can emulate in a shoddy, throwaway fashion. Tales of abuse and misuse.
When we escape into things that distract us, but that also reflect back that how things are is pretty much all we can do, it doesn’t help. Distractions that normalise all the worst aspects of human behaviour discourage us from feeling that people can do better. We come back with these perhaps having benefited from the distraction, but with no new tools to help us cope.
If you pick your escapism carefully, you can come back hopeful. Tales of survival against the odds, of co-operation to overcome adversity. Tales underpinned by the power of friendship. Tales that speak of courage and determination and the best that we can be and that remind us that we are all capable of heroism.
I suspect that most of us choose the forms of escapism that reinforce what we already think about people and possibilities. Those of us who crave power over will seek out the stories that give us demonstrations of that. Those of us who imagine that chaos and violence could create a world in which we would personally thrive, may enjoy those fantasies, however far from our prospects they may really be.
There is nothing wrong with escaping into any form of entertainment that helps you cope with life. It is always worth asking what that escape is doing for you aside from distraction, and what you are bringing back on your return.