Escapism: A Discussion

As an avid reader, escapism seems to be the name of the game. I read for a number of hours a day without fail, without remorse, without reservation. I long for the experiences of others. I long for thoughts and actions of the greatest minds of our kind so that I might be able to make some sort of sense out of my own.

To some extent, books are the instruction manuals for how to live a life–for better or worse.

But as much as I try, I can’t get past the thought that inherent in the act of reading is the act of escapism. That in order to experience the lives and actions of others we must break outside our own present–which to me strikes a harsh chord against the idea of “presence” in life.

The sad (maybe?) part of it all is the truth that we’re all escapists.

No matter what our poison, be it books, movies, television, music, we’re all longing for that clean, well-lit place that Hemingway so beautifully penned in the 1930’s and people like Tolkien and Lewis made fantastical for even further gratification.

We’re all longing for a sense of home in the things we experience, when for most of us, the very act of sitting down to consume whatever media we’ve got is the essence of home. Our media (books included) has become a perverse sort of hearth we gather around for our own sense of appeasement.

But is this a good thing? As hard as this is to admit: what’s the difference between escaping into the pages of a book vs. the pixelated glow of a screen? Obviously one is more linguistically advanced than the other, but the idea is the still the same. Regardless of media or format, we’re still diverging from the present for the seemingly greener pastures of the other.

Is escapism a good thing or a bad thing? What are your thoughts?

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12 thoughts on “Escapism: A Discussion

  1. It is escapism, but it is so much else, too, as you said, that is positive. I meditate and try to be present, but you simply cannot be present all the time – it is not possible and it is unnatural. Maybe we need to be conscious of what we are doing so that we can avoid an extreme that might be harmful. I’m a bit older so I find I don’t think about these things as much as I used to. I write, too, so I have to read a lot (my excuse!) I think this escape to media is a huge challenge for our time. Another thought, the fact that you do read so much and experience the lives of others really shows in your writing – you are nourishing others, in a sense, but you need to go back to the source, the well, to replenish yourself as well. I don’t think you’d be the writer and person you are if you didn’t read widely and deeply. And you are a teacher, too, I believe.

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  2. I’d add that books involve more imagination and you are actively involved and engaged in reading them (at least if they are good ha!). Whereas TV is generally a more passive activity and less (or no) imagination required.

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    • Without question! What most fail to recognize is TV is so easy. It asks nothing from you, whereas a book requires a large amount of work to get through. Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back again!

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  3. I love this post-I think in essence sitting down and reading a book there is no escape,we never shut down completely when reading. I find myself attracted to books according to my personal situation I am in,so on some level I truly do not think we escape;that being said,yes reading or writing or even watching tv is a form of escapism.
    Me personally,i do not think it is a bad thing,in moderation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I want to start by saying that this is an amazing post!
    I do believe we all, no matter how great your life is, we need to scape for a while. When I read a book is like I’m living somebody’s life, in a different world. Reading, watching a movie, writing are a firm of escapism, some people even drink to forget things. Everybody has one way to scape, our way is to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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