Is our culture too invested in escapism?
We have TV everywhere and Netflix and video games and phones.
We are connected all the time.
We can have 650 “Friends” on Facebook and never have met any of them at all in real life.
We binge watch whole seasons of shows on weekends.
We have IMAX theaters where were can fully immerse ourselves in the story. I remember my first experience with IMAX. I was in Texas and it was this history film somewhere near the Alamo. I wasn’t at all sure what I thought about it. I’m still not sure.
Are we leaving reality behind too much? Are we escaping so much that we fail to face the blunt force trauma of our own reality?
Do we need to unplug and relish the harshness of life’s cruel bends and clearly face them and solve them, or let them beat us down if that is what Fate has determined must happen?
In all the connectivity, do we grow? Do we grow in the ways we should grow? Do we absorb too much the tied-up-in-a-bow tropes and predictable storylines, expecting one day, that things will just “work out” for us, without applying any elbow grease?
Do we live in a world in our head that is almost reality- but not quite, because reality can suck and we don’t want to be there? Do we let our problems sit, unsolved, unaddressed, un-felt?
Are we stopping ourselves from accepting uncomfortable truths about the lives we live and instead zoning out into something we find pleasant in order to hide? Do we use these things to abdicate our own responsibility for our choices?
Is it fair to ourselves to hide from a rude or harsh thing that fate has dealt us, if indeed that is the case? It is better to fall in and embrace the darkness of that fate, rather than create for ourselves a distraction?
I’ve found myself pointlessly watching “The Golden Girls” of late. While I do laugh occasionally, I sit and wonder to myself at the plotlines. Am I to believe that women in this age bracket are having relationship and friendship problems that a 14-year-old could clear up for them? Or even a person much younger?
So why keep watching? Is there a point?
Why do we watch things just to watch them? Just to have the noise in the house, the pretend familiarity and warmth? The illusion of people that are ultimately always safe and who never could actually do any harm to us?
None of us knows how to live a life. Some of us flounder around trying. Always attempting to figure it out. Some people really try. Some people never seem to care much, and come into this world sitting on a stump with a motionless face and go out the same way. TV never seems to help much. Unless you happen to run into some situation involving a comic misunderstanding with characters who only have a few dimensions.
That is where TV also gets us:
We think of people incorrectly, and people portray themselves almost as caricatures. Only a list of qualities based on stock roles. We lose our complexity. We fail to see the complexity in others. We sell ourselves short on experiences and possibilities because of what we believe is fitting for us and who we determine we are. We define ourselves by music preference and subculture and religion (sometimes as all three at once—as I mentioned in the previous post, everyone I meet thinks that because I am white I am also Christian, Republican, and listen to country music a lot.)
Some people may only be three things. Maybe they aren’t multi-dimensional. But maybe it’s because they never gave themselves the chance to be, creating walls of what must be, walls that would never let them change the dial from the country music station to the college amateur DJ hour.
Some of us fools do reach up and twist the knob.
Some of us do eventually turn off the TV and listen to the quiet and cry about our lives and thank our lucky stars for the good things while wondering still why we got passed over for some, and know that living our best lives means we may not ever have everything, but we give it a damn good try as much as we can. Some of us do hit every station in the market. Read books on the gods of every religion, and try dancing to alien beats. Some of us grab different wine bottles every time we are in the store just to see how different they taste. We try the funny-looking appetizers and new fusion cuisine just to give it a shot. We go to a restaurant without anyone having recommended it to us or looking up reviews, because, if it’s awful, at least we’ll have a story to tell.
Some of us fools allow ourselves to feel out of step with our surroundings. To feel the discomfort. To realize that some things were our fault, but some things were dumb luck and out of our control. That trope that hurts the most—the inability to make the magic-30-minute-resolution happen because you did the right things.
At the end, we, the oddballs, drink our totally random wine, sit outside on the steps and hope that maybe somehow, we are gaining wisdom in all our folly. That we will have enough of wisdom to really feel different one day, but perhaps, that is an illusion too.
The fictional idea I find affects me the most is the “getting it right” idea. The idea that we will cross a finish line and not make any further bad choices, mistakes, never have a thought come out of our mouth holding the wrong words… that we will somehow one day get everything right. Our job will never disappear and our stock picks will only go up and we won’t forget we left something in the oven ever again. Our skin cream will be affordable and eliminate pimples and wrinkles, all our plants will bloom and we will eat a proper diet and somehow extend the daylight hours in a manner that allows us to do it all and tie each day up neat and complete.
Even though I know is absurd, it affects me. Something about the idea managed to wriggle its way into my brain, past all the TV and movie absurdities about love and heroics and success. This is the part that got through. Getting my choices right. Staying on top of everything. Although I know that no one keeps all the plates in the air all the time… I still think sometimes…. That if I could… I would break through to something else.
But there is nothing else. This is my life. And I’m living it. This is it. All there is.
None of us has the faintest clue what we are doing.