Escapism – and why it can be good for us


Our need for escapism

By Duane Hewitt

We escape in fiction and fantasy primarily because from time-to-time we need to. There is no doubt that escaping through movies, online gaming, music, or a good book allows us to separate ourselves from truer realities, whether that be dull and dreary or intensely painful.

In times such as this current pandemic, being able to escape safely through fiction, fantasy, and imagination, permits a break for our world-weary selves. We worry. We get depressed and anxious. We get stressed to the max. And so we seek to escape.

Through escapism, our egos and much of who we are is given the opportunity to don a new persona, or perhaps, indulge in our truer and greater ego or persona. Escapism is just that, diversion. It is façade. It is pretend. And it’s all something that we learn to do from the time we are children. Play is, after all, healthy. Pretend for the sake of having a break from stressful realities is more than just healthy, it is critically vital to our mental, emotional, and even to our physical wellbeing. 

Escapism is a reminder that we can be happy and hopeful because that escapism can let us feel happy and hopeful. The problem with something like COVID-19 is that this pandemic is a game changer for our generation. It has altered how we live. More than creating social distancing, the pandemic has created social isolationism. COVID-19 has (at least for the time being) shutdown many opportunities for escapism that might include social interaction, like theme parks, museums, music festivals, and even art galleries and sporting events. (Editor’s Note: Our need for social interactions will be dealt with as a separate topic in a separate article.)

So, in feeling stressed and not always knowing what to do or what lies in store, we must be prepared to remind ourselves that we need good forms of diversion, particularly in this time of social isolation and uncertainty. Such options might include movies and music and books and online gaming, to name a few. 

This article does not encourage escapism as something that comes from substances such as alcohol, which runs the risk of creating dependency. It does refer to, and even encourage, healthy escape as a means of giving oneself a break from the stress so many of us have been feeling as of late.

And what a surprise, even writing about escapism helps!

Copyright 2020 Duane Hewitt

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