I’ve consumed as much content as I have possibly been able to for as long as I can remember. My mother taught me to read at a young age; soon enough, I was devouring the Magic Tree House series and each Harry Potter book from my elementary school’s library. I watched (and still do, religiously) Saturday Night Live on the weekends, belly-laughing to absurd (and, of course, sometimes terrible) sketch comedy. I always carry a book with me in my bag, reading if I get a sliver of free time wherever I am. Podcasts for walks, a constant rotation of music for background noise. Loud music for driving to work, to numb my brain of the artificial interactions that meet me there, quiet music for the drive home, to sooth my anxious thoughts about aforementioned interactions. Movies on Saturday nights, binging new T.V. shows before bed. All at an attempt to keep my mind busy and satisfied.
For those of you in which this constant content consumption is familiar, the pandemic allotted ample time to explore more areas of media. With the rise of streaming surfaces, such as Disney+ and Netflix, ushered in a period of new shows to enjoy. Perhaps you munched on some popcorn while watching the latest episode of The Mandalorian or cringed as you watched Netflix’s documentary Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal. Of course, for bookworms and music lovers, the pandemic cultivated ripe new songs and books, fresher and more apt than ever. Maybe you bobbed your head along to the newest Brockhampton or Taylor Swift album. Perhaps you enjoyed Crying in H Mart, a memoir by Michelle Zauner or Klara and the Sun, a novel by Kazuo Shiguro. Put simply, it’s been a good few months for escapism fans.
When we account for the harsh reality this year has been, with never-ending, dooming headlines and terrible upheaval, it’s safe to say that people have had to become creative with coping mechanisms as means of distraction. And that’s where escapism comes in. Escapism is defined as a method of distracting oneself from realities, often abrasive ones, by finding comfort in fantasies or entertainment. What may be viewed as means of procrastination to an outside, is actually a beneficial aspect to maintaining one’s mental fitness. Escapism provides people the unique opportunity to travel to a more preferable world, may it be on screen or page, for a few hours to alleviate any stress or anxiety of an individual’s present.
Given the year we’ve all endured, a healthy dose of this by finding solace in entertainment might be what we all need. Because after a long day of staring at your laptop until your eyes burn and your head feels like a dark abyss, accompanied with succeeding Zoom meetings or extracurriculars or work, a pleasant cure to a bad day might just be binging one more episode of that show or reading just one more page of that book before bed. At the end of the day, whether it be through nightly movies or monthly rereads of favorite books, if it can bring you peace, then consume freely.