The Oxford English Dictionary defines escapism as “the tendency to seek, or the practice of seeking, distraction from what normally has to be endured.”
Thus far in my life, I have deemed escapism as two-sided, as both delusional and a necessity for maintaining higher perspective, a broader vision. Indeed, escapism, in its multiple forms , such as music, film and dance, grants one the ability to transcend their reality.
Nevertheless, reason is placed above passion in today’s education system.
Of course, not fundamental to the functioning of society, the arts are never pushed, and the logic and rationality of the academics: maths, science and English, take precedence, and so it was English, the most creative of the three subjects, that I pursued.
However, isn’t it ironic, that the creative subjects, music, film and dance, integral pieces to a wholesome culture, are undervalued, when various studies, and the experiences of so many, indicate them as forming the societal backbone? A psychological crux? Many take full advantage of music throughout their education, using uplifting and classical genres throughout essay and exam season, to offer the emotional zest that’s craved.
Many point to obsessive video gaming, TV addiction and manipulative music as causing people to neglect their responsibilities. And yes, obviously, immersing oneself in a fictional reality to the point where it feels more true than true circumstances, can be destructive to your own life, as well as the lives of others.
Even so, we cannot deny the incredible healing capacity of mental escapism. Psychological transcendence from the mundane, with alternate situations, mentalities and emotions can facilitate real change. Indeed, say, if pursuing escapism, through movie immersion, a Spotify playlist or Instagram feed is the only natural means through which a cancer patient can escape emotional trauma, besides physical pain, then does escapism become essential? Of course it does. And if a struggling medical student did not have access to, say, uplifting music, words of encouragement and self-expression, would they be as self-motivated and emotionally charged to change their situation? It seems unlikely. And, is it a coincidence that top-performing athletes accredit their success to, besides physical training, their ability to imagine a circumstance, perception and feeling different from their own? Not really.
It appears that a thriving society would look like one wherein the invisible divide and hierarchical structure in place between logic and emotion is relinquished. A society wherein logic is taken from it’s pedestal and recognised as most effective when in harmony with feeling. The intellect valued would be, not only rationale forming the framework for medical, engineering and operational industries, but the creative, transcendent expression, that offers the glue.
Do you perceive escapism as integral to enhancing your daily experiences? When has it eased, improved or changed your situation for the better? Comment your thoughts below.