The other day, I was chatting with a friend on Instagram, when the word ‘escapist’ came to my knowledge. We were discussing our month’s book haul and reading pace when he said about reading only the escapist stuff.
I presumed he meant books on conspiracies, escaping from certain situations, etc. but out of curiosity, I asked him the meaning.
“Escapism means immersing yourself in the world of imagination and fantasy to escape reality.”
I was hooked to this term because unknowingly we all are living an escapist life. Especially right now. COVID has disrupted everything we considered as normal, thrown our lives off the axis, but the most important thing it took away from people was their social life.
There was a time (yes, it feels like ages) when weekends were for friends, hangouts, chilling; in short, weekends were one big party. Until a few days ago, the new normal became when people were confined to four walls of their home, working and eating and working again. It led to the sharp rise in screen time, due to work or watching a TV series/movies.
Image source: Dribble
The multifold increase in streaming subscriptions is proof that people want to escape the reality of a virus taking over the world and them not being able to do a thing about it. Escapism is not limited to watching content online. Reading a book, listening to music, playing games fall under the same category. More and more people are taking the escapist route in the on-going pandemic environment.
What do you mean — is it wrong to take some leisure time off?
No. Taking some time off to distance yourself from any mess, emotionally and physically, will benefit you. Escaping from all the stress to recharge your battery before jumping into another day is great.
But my point is, how much is too much? Spending an entire day or night finishing that TV series is too much. Putting important work on hold to complete the book is too much. Losing yourself to music for hours instead of spending time with family at home or video calling friends is too much. Because addiction to escapism can impact your productivity, relationships, and personal growth.
Why do people want to escape from reality?
The answer is simple: reality brings us pain. It’s that direct experience that affects us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Hence, we are afraid of it and find ways to escape. Humans have a tendency to choose what is easy.
How does excessive desire for escapism affect life?
- Too much of escapism is bad when it turns into the habit of avoiding. We start avoiding reality, the challenges which lead to a better life. It affects professional growth (procrastinating work) and personal relationships (not solving problems by communication).
- The more time you spend in the fantasy world, the lesser energy you have to enjoy the real one. The escapist world becomes an addiction and that should be avoided at any cost.
- You become lonely and depressed. People who seek the comfort of escapism are addicted to the internet. They live in an illusional world and actively participate in forums and online discussions to fulfill their socializing needs. This negatively impacts your relationship with friends and family.
What to do? Minimal desires and earnest efforts.
The way out is simple. For example, the next time you watch the long due, extremely famous TV series, do not overdo. Fix a time, say one hour, and stick to it. Trust me, instead of feeling drained out (like I felt after watching Breaking Bad for five hours), you will feel excited and charged up.
The same goes for listening to music, reading books; put a time-check on every activity. This way you will not get addicted to one activity and achieve more through the day.
Image source: Dribble
There also are ways of escapism that are healthy and won’t pull you in them for hours. Like, coloring. I call it my positive escapism. I pick up my set of pencil colors and a coloring book and start enjoying the process. I do not overdo it because my fingers start aching in an hour, and I leave it to continue the next day. But when I am coloring, in the back of my mind, I am mentally preparing the list of tasks that I need to complete. I get creative ideas related to my writing and marketing. After it, I pick up my diary and note the ideas, tasks list, etc. as everything is fresh in my mind.
The point is, Identify your source of positive energy. It can be coloring, going on a walk, or any activity that does not drain but inspires you to plan the day, to innovate, to tackle the challenges and emerge victoriously.