Sometimes it’s easier to live in a fictional reality than to acknowledge the current wreckage of COVID-19. Escapism is a natural tendency to distract ourselves from reality, whether it’s dull or unpleasant; distractions are easily obtainable, though temporary solutions to an ongoing issue. With chaos all around us, we turn our heads to entertainment.
Streaming services seem to reap the most benefits, with streams and subscriptions skyrocketing as people tap into an accessible diversion. This endless stream of content has replaced live entertainment; users flock to streaming platforms with a lack of access to broadcast television, live sporting events, new cinema, etc.
Having access to a plethora of content offers comfort and relaxation for many. Viewers can witness and live vicariously through characters to feel a life untainted by COVID-19. An insatiable appetite to experience life while being socially isolated is almost satisfied with bright visuals and an incredibly amusing plotline. Ultimately, it’s easy to sit back and stare mindlessly at a screen to try to forget about the world around us. Though some shows have been set in COVID-19 times – Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS: New Orleans, This is Us, and countless more – other shows that don’t address the pandemic can be a pacifier for most.
Escapism can translate into other forms of entertainment too; for instance, the gaming industry is notorious for this. Technology generally enables escapist behavior and makes the experience exciting for users as a result of active participation and experimentation with the complex narratives involved. This gives gamers a sense of control and puts them at ease. While everything in real life is unpredictable and extremely troubling, video games provide a space where players can participate while knowing the procedure..
Brands have been experimenting with virtual realities, knowing that this is exactly what individuals have been craving. Big businesses like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and so on have been investing in world-building via VR headset development. After all, as Neil Hughston, chief executive of the creative agency Duke, said best, “escapism is [all] about feeling ‘real’, even if it isn’t.” And that is exactly what simulated experiences like VR intend to do for users.
However, it is worth mentioning that there is a point where this escapism can become dangerous. Living vicariously through lively characters or experiencing an augmented and altered reality can be wonderful, but it’s important to be wary of its negative implications. When our experiences transition to passive entertainment, our mental energy can become depleted.
An easy fix would be to shift to active entertainment, which involves more mental and physical activity. Suggestions include taking up photography rather than watching films or reading some Agatha Christie crime books rather than binging Criminal Minds (or other crime and drama-based series) on the daily. Involvement in an online dance or singing class could be beneficial too; rather than watching YouTube clips of other people, you can try it out on your own while building a sense of community with other participants! Challenging yourself to do something more intensive and engaging can be daunting, but it can generally decrease lethargy since days seem to otherwise blend together.
In other respects, kicking back to a beloved show now and then can be a rewarding feeling for a lot of people. Cutting out streaming and gaming or other escapist behaviors isn’t entirely obligatory. Ultimately, it’s necessary to pursue everything in moderation!
Cover photo: Yahoo Finance
Rhea is a writer for The Crescent’s Entertainment section and assistant editor for the NOLA 360 section. She is a senior double majoring in Psychology and Design and minoring in Studio Art. In her free time, she makes an excessive amount of playlists, dabbles in the kitchen, and gets lost while exploring new places!