Escapism: Our unwitting superpower

Sometimes you don’t even need to get out of your seat to escape school.


As humans, we possess a constant thirst for tangible objects and aspects of our lives that we don’t already possess. Many of us dream of lighter workloads, perfect grades, unlimited french fries, however the moment we realize that some unrealistic aspirations are simply unapproachable, we fall into a minor and temporary sorrow. Yet, for some, when certain aspirations, practical and unpractical, seem too incredible to live without, they gravitate towards escapism to cope.

Escapism is the intentional attempt to distract one’s self from their surroundings by creating mental fantasies or escaping to a form of entertainment, such as reading or gaming. Because escapism has the potential to be large-scale or incredibly minor, it also has the capability to beneficial or detrimental.

There are plenty of situations where escapism is considerably appealing. Anna Reid shares, “Being able to escape to a novel set in India helped me stay warm during the coldest part of winter!” Sometimes seat warmers, a home-cooked bowl of chicken noodle soup, and the fuzziest of fuzzy blankets just don’t cut it. India might just do the job.

Nico Udris ‘19 finds peace at an athletic level: “I play sports to escape my stress.” Additionally, Deniz Ercan-Fang ‘16 escapes stress by “taking a break and doing something I enjoy, like sleeping or Netflix.” Although temporarily dropping responsibilities to take a nap or watch Netflix is desirable and helps to eliminate stress, it has the potential to yield negative outcomes.

Escapism occasionally proves to be nothing less than splendid, but some can find it to be the exact opposite. Chuck D, a famous musician and author, believes, “Music and art and culture is escapism, and escapism sometimes is healthy for people to get away from reality. The problem is when they stay there.”

Many escapists regularly resort to overeating, drugs, and alcohol. They seek these physically damaging distractions due to the momentary relief and soothing of mental worries, along with general stress. However, like Chuck D states, it’s the dependency and addictiveness of the pastime that put one’s life or sanity at stake.

Similarly to Chuck D’s belief, I view escapism as something extremely beneficial and positive in small doses that require no version of unhealthy dependence. It’s completely crucial for everyone to take a moment to regroup their beings, and if that means sitting aside to watch a movie or whip out your set of crayons and doodle, that’s awesome. However, if that movie or doodle session means delaying mandatory school work or responsibilities, then it may not be the best option. I also don’t see substance abuse as a particularly smart method of coping. I believe that these two scenarios are where the line is drawn.

It’s almost rewarding to know that our expired childhood fantasies of migrating to a more desirable universe is in some form achievable and that, as humans, we have the capability of mentally escaping stressful situations by, for example, painting on a canvas. However, escapism is not always as wonderfully simple, or remotely safe for that matter. We must never lose sight of where our schemes of survival become dangerous or too impactful within our lives in the real world.