Certainty in an uncertain world: escapist entertainment

Photo by Korie Cull on Unsplash

Critics once were fighting off technology to hold on to human interaction are now probably chopping wood to pay off their home loans to Tom Nook.

Why do humans crave social interaction?

Human beings are social animals, that’s for sure. For our species to stay healthy and feel secure, we need some social connection. Studies show that a lack of social interaction can lead to loneliness, rapid ageing, health risks and even suicide. In this day and age where we are all desperately searching for that elixir that will add years to our lives and fades the wrinkles on our skin, we tend to forget the best-kept secret to a long and flourishing life is right in front of us: spending quality time with the people we love.

All fine and dandy now we know this, but there’s this other tiny obstruction that holds us back. Oh yes, a global pandemic. How do we safeguard quality time with loved ones, especially during these trying times where physical interaction is strongly discouraged?

Faking social interaction with technology

Nothing compares to ‘real’ human interaction. But, technology has come a long way of being a great substitute. Critics that used to frow upon technology are now probably playing online games with friends and family. In these strange times, where it is hard to pop by a friend, family member, or neighbour online games help us reconnect and give us the (false) sense of freedom. Take Nintendo’s latest hit Animal Crossing New Horizons that sold 1.88 million copies in just three days in Japan, where you get to shape your island and design your life as you please. Nothing terrible happens, and everybody is friendly and uplifting (except Gulliver, the ship-wrecked seagull). Katsuya Eguchi, the Japanese game designer that created Animal Crossing based the escapist entertainment game on when he studied abroad, away from friends and family. He acknowledged how important spending quality time is. This memory has laid the foundation for millions of people worldwide during a global pandemic that started in 2020.

Animal Crossing provides the opportunity to visit your friends’ island online, run around and have a blast while in real life, people are losing their jobs, wearing facemasks and try to avoid any social interaction. Take a look at this 89-year-old woman that adores playing Animal Crossing.

Preventing emotional exhaustion

Avoiding problems has never been a good idea. For you to solve them, you need to lean into them rather than run away. As the name already shows, Escapist entertainment is not enabling the consumer to avoid their problems, it is a way to escape whatever they need a break from. Sometimes you need to let a problem rest and recharge, so you gain the strength to pick your problem up again and solve the shit out of it. This action is where technology comes in. Can you imagine how we would have gone through the pandemic without technology? Without streaming services, online video games, e-book providers or delivery services? I certainly can’t.

The pandemic has taught us that technology is not the enemy. It is a tool that fights off loneliness, improves health and brings back that feeling of being in control again.

Preferably on an island diving for shells.

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