There are two ways of dealing with problems. You can either put up a fight or ignore them instead. The methods of avoiding problems are aplenty. Not to mention numerous fighting techniques, for that matter. Escapism is one of the most popular methods of fleeing unpleasant realities.
“Escapists tend to lose their social adaptation skills. They do not know how to approach a wicked witch in a housing office, they get into difficulties if a situation involves a fair amount of stress and competition e.g. during a job interview. They find it hard to pick a topic of discussion if they have to hang out with the ‘wrong people’.”
“Escapism” derives from the verb “escape,” the one you can see at a key located in the top left-hand corner of your computer keyboard. The key is to be hit in times of trouble, but trouble does not mean a cul-de-sac in most cases. Escapism is devised to help you in similar situations i.e. it gives you an opportunity to avoid an unpleasant reality without providing you with any chances to figure it out or change anything. We take the liberty of calling things that make you unhappy a “reality.”
There are physiological and psychological methods of taking flight from reality. Assumedly, everybody has some knowledge with regard to the physiological means of escapism i.e. alcoholism and drug addiction. From the point of view of a person who loathes himself, the above methods are quite effective. But please do not forget to take a look at one’s physical and mental health hanging unsteadily in the other pan of a balance.
Psychological escapism involves much fewer risks.
Psychological escapism is a way to slip away into a more pleasant world of imagination e.g. reading countless sci-fi fiction stories, playing solitaire or computer games till dawn, or daydreaming on a commuter train.
Despite the original meaning of the term “escape”, escapism is not by any means a getaway from society. No doubt about it, in your childhood you just love dreaming of being a Robinson Crusoe on a faraway island. But real psychological escapism is something different. It gives you a shelter from reality at a rock-bottom price. The mechanism of it looks quite simple: an escapist will simply have no time or strength to take hard any events of the outside world once he finds a pastime that absorbs his mind in full. Moreover, an escapist of any kind e.g. an aficionado of alternative history, a devotee of hard-core pornographic web sites, or an avid fan of the works by J. R. R. Tolkien – any of the above will soon join the club of like-minded individuals who share the same method of keeping away from reality.
What dreams may come
By and large, fleeing the reality is detrimental to both an escapist and his loved ones. Let us start from the former. It is highly unlikely that a person dwelling in a house enclosed with a high stone wall will ever take a voluntary glance at things outside the wall. In other words, the escapists tend to lose their social adaptation skills, they do not know how to approach a wicked witch in a housing office, they normally get into difficulties if a situation involves a fair amount of stress of competition e.g. during a job interview. They find it hard to pick a topic of discussion if they happen to mingle with the “wrong people.” A lack of social adaptation skills makes them look somewhat ludicrous.
There is a wall that separates the escapist from a despicable reality. The wall grows stronger and taller. Slowly but surely, the escapist slides into the fringes of society.
There is yet another risk. Some forms of escapism may have a destructive impact on the personality. For example, a person who spends too much time behind a gambling machine is likely to develop the frightening dependence on gambling. Other varieties of escapism may go to extremes and evolve into an ideology. For example, the hippies were a protest movement at the beginning, they protested against the consumerist society as a whole and the Vietnam War in particular. The hippie movement quickly became an escapist ideology. Some people who indulged themselves into the cult of idleness, irresponsible behavior, and experiments with mind-blowing drugs ended up ruined in terms of physical and mental health.
The riot of a public animal
We should not disregard society which is often portrayed as an instrument for exerting violence on the personality. It is pretty hard to come up with something that could contravene the statement. Society cannot but impose certain rules and restrictions on an individual. For crying out loud, one is supposed to go to school, refrain from picking one’s nose in public, and get a job. A person who practices escapism (either physiological or psychological) is primarily unhappy about certain instructions the state tells him to follow. The instructions may seem either too complicated or oversimplified, and therefore result in tedium. As a result, escapists opt to avoid the instructions without making a slightest effort to play along.
We can define two kinds of escapism depending on a sort of emotions produced by the requirements of society with regard to a member of society. The first kind of escapism is part of the defense mechanism, a strong desire to hide in your shell. The other kind is more positive. It has to do with the ability of finding your own niche and focus on your labor of love, no matter if it pays or not, whether it shows any signs of recognition in terms of public opinion in the long run. The second variety seems more acceptable. It could produce an image of some scientific genius, a somewhat crazy wild-eyed character wearing heavy horn-rimmed glasses and shoddy slippers in the office.
The point is that even the “positive escapism” does not always stand for a decent way out of a situation. Avoiding reality does damage to an escapist in the first place. But we are not trying to say that a person should fully obey any orders imposed on him by other people. The ability to harmonize your personal interests with the public ones brings us back to the importance of being adaptable to the needs of society, the very subject at the beginning of our story about escapism.
Translated by Guerman Grachev
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