The Solution to Media Escapism

What is Escapism?

Escapism is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

“habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine”.

However, this “habitual diversion of the mind” terminology has been contested by some researchers, who argue that certain groups of people use escapism more casually (i.e. not habitually) while others treat it as an everyday pastime. For some people, on the other hand, this “habit” soon becomes a form of procrastination, causing their own personal lives to stagnate or even decline.

Sarah Kohler, a researcher from the University of Muenster, recently conducted a study of 400 students, concluding that:

“Media use for escape can certainly be a form of procrastination, but not all media escapism serves this purpose. This is particularly important because communication science needs to think more clearly about the distinction between escapism in general and procrastination specifically.”

The Problem

Whether it’s friends, colleagues, family, or ourselves, we needn’t look far to find good, hardworking people who are not satisfied with their careers, their financial situation, their skills, and/or their relationships. We all have goals and obstacles, but media escapism is something that I see in today’s atmosphere that is preventing us from tackling the stress from those obstacles in a healthy way.

With the healthy amount of spare time we have, a lot of us unfortunately turn to alternate, digital realities to cope with the stresses that come with facing our obstacles instead of using that valuable time growing. These alternate realities, can come in the form of motion-picture, television, video-games, social media, and even the news. In today’s media climate, these mediums have become amplified by billion dollar franchises and new technologies. What once was a 30 to 90 minutes session of entertainment a day is being viciously promoted to longer sessions.

My belief that a lack of respect for audiences’ time and money has allowed the big media-entertainment corporations to capitalize on and grow unhealthy media consumption habits. For me, it’s simply a case of greed. For evidence, look no further than Disney’s data it provides to potential advertisers: Generation Stream.

A lack of respect for audiences’ time and money has allowed the big media-entertainment corporations to capitalize on and grow unhealthy media consumption habits.

As pointed out in an article by Medium, it can become difficult to distinguish between watching a TV show or playing a video game for “fun” and then doing it compulsively because we’re “addicted” to it. Today, people, young or old, can be diagnosed with with a type of digital media addiction. However, children have to most to risk.

According to a previous article by the Center On Media and Child Health, “excessive and compulsive use of the internet and video games may lead to academic struggle, poor family relationships, impaired social functioning, and emotional and psychiatric problems.”


The Solution

Of course, escapism has always been incorporated into media art which allowed the consumer to enter a world much different from their own. In times like the great depression, artists intentionally created escapes for people to escape the horrors of their daily lives. For me this hints that distraction can serve some good for people’s lives, especially during moments of hardship and helplessness.

Movies served as a break from the daily struggles of the Great Depression

I personally don’t completely agree with the escapist methods during the the 1930s, but I do agree with one thing: Intent. That is the difference between then and now…

Conscious decisioni making and mindful participation

For me, the solution for today’s abuse of media escapism, by artists and consumers, lies in that equation. Consciousness and mindfulness.

Regarding us as audiences, we can start simply by establishing healthy media consumption habits, such as:

  1. Setting limits and parameters of how, when, where, why, how long we spend time on media and technology
  2. Finding our triggers for unhealthy consumption habits and replacing them with healthy stress relief and emotional growth exercises
  3. Being media consumer role models for our family and friends
  4. Keeping a media consumption journal or tracker on our devices

The battle for artists will be less straight forward and more difficult. Perhaps we need to usher in a new era of conscious art? An era of healthy media which strives to capture the consumer’s attention without dominating their life? An era of creating media that not only seeks to entertain its consumers, but to heal them. How do we start doing this?

As a filmmaker and artist myself, it’s going to start by just doing it: making conscious and healthy media one piece at a time. And with that, I think we artists should strive to advise each other to better intentions.


Time to Get Reel

Mindful consumers, conscious artists, and a community that advises one another to do better. That is the solution, and that is why I founded Reel Nation Media. Its mission is to:

To unite virtuous, sincere artists and audiences to inspire truth, understanding, hope, and reform, within themselves and the world, in a beautiful, powerful, and enjoyable journey through the media arts.


Keep it Reel!

What’s your take on media escapism? Please consider sharing this article and following Reel Nation Media for more conscious media art.