The Danger of Entertainment

My guess is that you’re going to hate reading this.

At the very least, you’ll be polarized. You’ll think I am dead right, or totally off base.

But, hey, here goes…

I’ve been thinking lately, about how much entertainment is now the cornerstone of our modern culture.

Most of us these days have a pretty similar routine we follow. We work most of the week simply to have the basics of life taken care of. But once we are fed, clothed, housed and loved, it seems we actually don’t know what to do.

Luckily, this is where entertainment comes in.

Ever since prehistoric times when we shared stories around a fire, we have leaned on entertainment to distract ourselves from reality, to enjoy some escape.

Today, thanks to streaming TV, downloadable movies, video games and the internet, we no longer need a fire to sit around. Instead we have an endless portal of escape that can transport us virtually anywhere we want to be.

My question is: when does escape through entertainment become a crutch? When do we stop living our own lives, and start living the lives of others through vicarious viewing?

I realize I am probably sounding like a neo-hipster. Fear not; I’m not going to tell you to throw away your television, unhook your wifi, or grow an epic beard.

What I do want to suggest though, is that you consider how much of your life you use up in ‘entertainment’ mode. What potion of your free time, outside work and responsibilities are spent in an escape from reality?

The reason I ask this, is because I have noticed recently that the less time I spend on entertainment, the happier I am. It took me a while to make the connection, but finally it dawned on me that maybe too much entertainment is actually a detriment to fulfillment.

The more I am engaged in activities that help me develop myself, or pursue one of my passions, the better I feel.

What I’ve realized is that entertainment is a sort of second-hand version of fun. It’s not really our fun, its a simulated experience lived vicariously through others.

Henry David Thoreau, as always, said it more eloquently than I ever could “A stereotyped, but unconscious despair is concealed under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work.”

I realize this is probably sounding horribly pretentious. Let me be clear: I’m not a stoic. I’m not a monk. I don’t have a Thoreau-style neck beard. I’m a normal person who lives in the modern world just the same as you.

I guess my point here is that life is meant to be lived. In real time, in the real world. Entertainment can be a fun escape, it just won’t make your soul sing.

Yet when entertainment starts to take over your nights and weekends, I think it’s time ask whether this is truly the life you want to live.

Entertainment isn’t a bad thing. It can be an enjoyable escape from the world for a time, it can help to refresh and reinvigorate you. Yet taken to an extreme, I do believe there is a danger in entertainment. The danger of losing who you could be.

Entertainment provides a tepid level of happiness, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t create fulfillment.

That is what living your own life is for.


3 thoughts on “The Danger of Entertainment

  1. Great article, very timely for me – I noticed early on the detrimental effect too much entertainment had on me. I have now thrown away (sold) my television, I haven’t unhooked my wi-fi (obviously) and I don’t suit an epic beard! but having just finished 30 days without television I have been happier and more productive, with more hours in the day to spare. I was also using fiction reading as an escape from reality and so gave that up for 30 days too, I will be bringing that back in but in a more moderate capacity.

    Thanks for the article

    1. Thanks Steve! I am so glad it resonated for you. It is something I think we sometimes forget in the modern world of 24/7 entertainment options. Whatever we spend our attention on is what we are spending our lives on. Glad your habit changes have helped you!

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