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A spirit that is not afraid

COLUMN | The importance of escapist entertainment

 We pour ourselves out daily as we live — we pour out our strength, passion, talent, interest, time, attention and effort. 

A cup that is being poured out must be refilled; otherwise it becomes empty. 

This emptiness is burnout.

Life demands that the cup be poured out, though. It is unavoidable. School, work, a social life, hobbies — these all pour out our cups. 

We can find purpose in what we do, and some of us even find something that fulfills and gives meaning to everything we do. But even if our lives are perfect, the cup is still empty at the end of the day.

Finding a way to refill the cup is necessary; finding a way to replenish ourselves is vital. It allows us to continue life without burnout. 

Taking a step back is important. It refills our cups and allows us to keep partaking in the things we love and the things we are required to do. 

One thing that refills our cups can be escapist entertainment. 

Writing or film is supposed to transport its audience to other histories, locations and realities. For many reasons, escapist entertainment benefits those who partake in it. 

It is an important aspect of the human experience to see the world from other points of view. This is how we keep from becoming egocentric. This is how we develop empathy and compassion, and we protect ourselves from ignorance. 

Life is  easier to live when we find meaning and joy in it. Opening our minds to happiness allows us to love the things, people and circumstances around us. Partaking in escapist entertainment is one way to do this.

Arguably the most important facet of escapist entertainment, though, is that it takes our mind off what is present. It allows us to mindlessly encounter different ideas and stories. Because a world of problems, solutions, comedy, drama, romance or adventure is provided to us in fullness, we experience it instead of expending what is in our cup.

These media help us escape the things that drain our cups, and it requires no effort to experience them. 

As with all things, there is a balance that must be maintained when partaking in escapist entertainment. If we engage with it too much, we run the risk of it consuming our lives, becoming an unhealthy addiction, making us lazy or causing us to never want to return to our real world. 

Plus, rarity makes it mean more.

The point is to refill our cups just enough so that we have what it takes to keep going. “Just enough” is a niche amount that is subjectively determined by the amount of rest or down time someone needs. Escapist entertainment should be a coping mechanism — a habit even — but not a lifestyle or all-consuming idol. 

It exists to help us and give us pleasure, so “just enough” becomes too much when we find ourselves unable to escape the escapist medium.

Many people like to incorporate escapist entertainment as a motivation or “reward” for being productive or having a long, busy day. Timing is everything. 

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Personally, when I find my checklist filling up, I like to block off time between projects to engage in escapist entertainment. This looks like watching a movie the evening after a big exam to de-stress and help me rest for the remainder of the week. 

I always feel refreshed, especially when the plot works out the way I want it to. Also, I find that my ability to think creatively gets replenished, and I feel rested enough to begin my next task. 

There is a sense of productivity in finishing a chapter, book, television show or movie. It gives us a sense of control. 

We need to take care of ourselves so we can tend to all our other responsibilities. We need to refill our cups. 

Living a life with a steady and balanced flow of pouring out and back in makes our human experience the most fulfilling, enjoyable and meaningful that it can be. 

The opinions expressed in columns and letters represent the views and opinions of their individual authors. 

These opinions do not necessarily reflect the Auburn University student body, faculty, administration or Board of Trustees.

Sami Grace Donnelly | Writer Abroad

Sami Grace Donnelly, junior in English literature, began writing for the Plainsman in the Fall of 2021. She has served as a columnist, the Opinion Editor and is now a writer abroad during her exchange program in Spain.


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