Reality is as vastly intimidating and mysterious as the universe itself. We have the resources to understand it to a great extent, yet we know less than nothing. Our scope of it goes deep enough to see the intricacies of which it functions. Even when we lack base familiarity, our ability to speculate using limited information can prove potentially useful in pursuit of the truth. Yet the truth is escaping us.
Like the many anomalies enveloping space, the nature of our reality is distorted by deceptive data and clouded judgment. When that reality fails to be mutually defined by a single truth based on science and logic, we become divided into those who pursue truth, those who seek to manipulate it, and those who remain absent through avoidance. Leading to this week’s topic.
Escapism is a broad term that defines how we avoid or change reality as we see it. It isn’t to say all ignorance or misunderstanding is born from it. The habitual exercise of ignorance, avoidance, or deliberate refusal to accept evidence is the basis of escapism in practice.
I previously mentioned a negative human trait that plagues us to doubt and distrust each other. How disrespectful actions beget the cycle of behavior we initially opposed in an epidemic of cynicism.
The cynic and the escapist both utilize a defense mechanism that shields them from severe harm to their life routine, self-esteem, and personal values. As previously mentioned, escapism covers a spectrum of behaviors based on what we’re running from and the headspace designed to shelter us from an element of depression, fear, hate, or trauma individually or, in some cases, simultaneously.
Also, unlike cynicism, escapism is a strategy most of us possess and employ. The inability to apply it in certain situations may be construed as socially awkward, where one is incapable of avoiding a topic that may be highly inappropriate or in bad timing.
When you avoid or escape a topic or situation, why is it necessary? Does your sentiment compel you to believe whatever your parents do? Would it alienate your circle of social contacts? Perhaps you fear confirming an opinion on a controversial topic? The majority of our behaviors are dictated by the impact they may have on our lives.
Any action or dialogue that betrays your convictions requires an extent of self-deception depending on the subject matter. The more you have to deceive your true self to maintain your lifestyle, the further you’ll drift from who you truly are. People tend to forget how many hurdles they’ve lept on an ever-shifting obstacle course, and a plurality of individuals are losing themselves without realizing it.
The journal study cited on this page best describes escapism as either pure avoidance or self-deception. Avoidance is, at best, gracefully avoiding a topic, and at worst, having no opinion simply to avoid confrontation. Pious individuals may constantly bring up the topic to pry an opinion from someone who doesn’t like talking about it or convinced themselves to hold neutral opinions that give credence to everyone’s perspective. It may not be important enough for them to think hard about it and develop their own beliefs.
Self-deception is an extremity where you must justify a rationale by any means necessary. Using the previous example one might not be able to deeply find faith in a higher power. However, their family and friends may be devout Christians, and being true to their intuitive logic would cause their entire life to change. They must make a decision to hold on to their instincts, but dishonor their convictions by lying to everyone. Or gaslight themselves in justification and false rationality till they become convinced that their first intuition was wrong. We’re social creatures that may choose to live a lie over living an unpleasant life.
We live in an age where the internet gives us an escape from reality such as online gaming or communities for fans and hobbyists. Somewhere far away from the poison well of reality where we can be something greater than ourselves or somewhere better than where we are now. Unlike social media where people show their true colors, these places allow us to be something were not. Now more than ever, it has become commonplace for newer generations to become infatuated with engaging in fantasy lives.
Unfortunately, when too many people escape reality, you have those who pursue the unpleasant truth and those with the power to manipulate information. The internet has caused a spiraling fear of bias and caused detrimental damage to the way people think. Those who hold no power have become many factions of opposing parties, all fighting with manufactured beliefs based on the bias of their social groups. Those who are rich and powerful must stir the pot with one hand while the other rewrites the rules that keep them in power.
Then you have those who hold no regard for social acceptance, living only by science, fairness, and absolute truth as we know it. It confuses people when science changes because people demand definitive answers to stay definitive. These people demand we have answers that never change, and when new information is discovered, it confuses and agitates those who forget how the scientific process works. So they choose complacency in what they already know and refrain from information that changes. No matter who you are or what you believe, caring more about living in social bliss over knowledge will always make you susceptible to self-deceptive escapism.
The longer you hide from unpleasant reality, the faster history will be erased. Those deprived of the will to fight the powerful and accept the status quo will define us all. Corruption and hate will be our reality. All truth will be lost. And they will win.
Longeway, J. (1990). The Rationality of Escapism and Self-Deception. Behavior and Philosophy, 18(2), 1-20. Retrieved July 21, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27759220