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Escapism for the 21st century

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Escapism for the 21st century
Posted March 9, 2007

Katherine Hillier
Editorial Director

Whatever happened to just sitting down and enjoying a book? The simple relaxation and escape of reading seems to have taken a turn for the worse.

Nowadays, books appear to be unfulfilling and people need something more to capture their desire to get away from it all.

Enter the world of gaming – the escapism for the 21st century. Although not a new concept, gaming is morphing into a far more advanced form of distraction.

With the arrival of new social networking programs like “Second Life,” people can now pretend to lead the life they have only dreamed of. This changes things a lot.

While reading a book, you can escape into another world for a few weeks, then surface again with a whole new perspective, while with gaming people aren’t re-surfacing at all – they are living these “second lives” as if they were real.

What has the world come to? Are people so desperate to escape the goings on of everyday life that they choose to exist mostly in a virtual reality?

Life is not easy, and it is not perfect. Bad things happen to good people – bad things happen to everyone.

Life should not be about permanent escapism, it should be about permanent absorption. It’s OK to read a book and see the world through someone else’s eyes, but when this takes on a whole new skin and we begin re-living our own lives on computers and in chat rooms, we should begin to ask ourselves if this is how we want to live.

To be alive is amazing, and to be alive in the 21st century is even better.

There are so many adventures and dreams to take advantage of, and so many roadblocks ahead of us; but it is in those apparent roadblocks where we find ourselves and find out who we truly are.

Trying to avoid this is fruitless because it is only after you have overcome a great pothole in the road of life, that you can have true appreciation for a smooth ride.

Playing games is fun, and I enjoy them just as much as the next person does; I only worry when I see people who would rather build their dream house on the computer than in real life.

Games should be small distractions, not new realities.

And, with the epic influence of television on our daily lives, it is understandable that Jane Austen or John Steinbeck can no longer fulfill the need for a true escape.

I find this sad. At least when reading a book, we are learning something about our own lives and the lives of others.

When playing a game, it seems as though we are only indulging ourselves in a narcissistic challenge, and not enriching our own character in any way.
I wish that a book was enough of a distraction for a simple escape.

I wish that “Second Life” was not a place where people lived out their dreams and desires. Why can’t we live our dreams in real life?

There is nothing stopping us from doing this, except a computer and the motivation to make your dreams a reality.

Life is beautiful, and it is hard work; but once we realize this and stop trying to avoid the moments of conflict that outline our lives, that is when we are truly living. It is this that makes everyday a new day and every moment a gift.

Katherine Hillier, a senior journalism major, is managing editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at khillier@ulv.edu.