2020 was one hell of a year. And all of us have been pushed to our limits. Some have lost jobs, some have had to study at home and most missed out on the things we usually look forward to. In retrospective I would say in particular this has affected the young, and those who were already going through difficult times. Therefore it is only natural that many have sought to find more ways of coping, and considering the circumstances, the internet has been rather appropriate. Of course it is a perfect way to distract ourselves, but is it really healthy, or would it be ignorant to claim that it is “better than nothing”?
What Is Escapism
According to Wikipedia, escapism refers to “mental diversion from unpleasant or boring aspects of daily life, typically through activities involving imagination or entertainment.” This has probably been apparent for hundreds of years, although recently I would imagine it has been on the rise. This can also happen in numerous forms, including gambling, heavy drug use or even persistently reading or watching TV to the point that it strongly gets in the way of what people are going through in other aspects of their life. Often this is related to mental illness, or addiction.
However in recent years there has been a new form of escapism, being on the internet. This is known to be a “very powerful variable that links all psychological problems to addiction induced by internet use.”
How this is a Problem?
I hope you’re all aware of how much of a issue heavy drug or alcohol use is, or substantial gambling. Basically because often it’s extremely addictive, and can ruin people physically and mentally. However other behaviors can manifest into escapism, such as excessive reading or film watching. Obviously only when this interferes with day to day errands. Usually this stems from the person facing severe hardship in their lives as it stands, however escaping to the point that you cannot bear to return is never going to help resolve the problem!
So how does internet escapism come into all of this? Well everywhere. For a start people can use many gambling sites on the internet, which could potentially exasperate the problem. As unlike before where shops would close and people would have no choice but to take a break, now the day doesn’t end. Making it that bit more addictive. However there are other ways people can engross in the online world, in order to get away from real life. Which include in virtual worlds where people can pretend to be someone who they aren’t.
Is This on the Rise?
The lonely and difficult world which many face has probably only been strongly exaggerated by the effects of the pandemic. Therefore many people are likely to have resorted to the internet in a way to get away from it all. This has included spending more time on social media, or within virtual worlds. So you may contest that we have all done so, therefore how is it a problem. Which is certainly true, but it becomes a problem when it gets to the point where it stops one from facing the realities of their lives.
Can This Ever be Good?
Everyone deserves to get help with what they are going through, but come on! This is the real world and nobody is going to get the help which they deserve overnight, or sadly at all… Meanwhile I’m sure most will agree that a distraction can be very helpful at the best of times. Yet I’m sorry, but you cannot “distract yourself” constantly forever, without confronting what you are going through and hopefully getting help. While escapist behaviors can exasperate problems already occurring on one’s life.
Of course escapism is something that has been around, probably forever, and escapism online is just it’s newest form, which is likely to become increasingly apparent. On a small scale, I would say that escapism can be a positive, but not when it gets to the point when someone cannot face their “real” life. It is important to be wary of escapism relating to the internet, because it can look different and the effects of it can potentially be stronger.