What is the value of entertainment?

Note to future self…

For a while now I’ve been thinking about how should we value entertainment? What is its purpose? Should we strive for a life where we’re entertained all day every day?

There’s no question that entertainment has multiple purposes including:

  1. Transmission of Culture
  2. Escapism
  3. Social Bonding
  4. Education

All entertainment is not created equal so today I want to focus on passive entertainment that leads to escapism. I found this great article, which argues that passive entertainment is a form of escapism because its purpose is to transport us to another world – not our own. My next question then was – why do we want to escape? Here’s the author’s response:

“Why do we want to escape?

These are the three reasons that I feel cover most areas.

Boredom or loneliness: We don’t know what to do with ourselves. The monotony of daily life gets to us and we feel we need some excitement and variety to change things up a bit.

A TV constantly running in the background, and maybe catching our attention every now and then, keeps us company.

Fear and avoidance: We don’t want to face something we fear, or can’t bring ourselves to move past the fear and do something about it. We’re scared to pursue what we want, so we choose the most familiar path—turning on the TV.

Struggle: Life sometimes feels like a battle—traffic, work and family demands, taking care of ourselves and keeping up with what’s going on. At the end of the day all we want to do is forget about all of it and sit mindlessly in front of the screen.”

The article goes more in-depth on the reasons why entertainment is so readily available and it’s negative effect in our health. It’s a great read.

Now I have more questions than I had before but at least I feel better about the fact that I am aware of why I try to seek this mindless entertainment from time to time. It’s not the silly jokes of late-night hosts that I want. What I want is to hit pause on my real life because I feel lonely, bored or stressed out. This is tremendously powerful and I really look forward to stopping myself from indulging in these form of mindless entertainment more than what’s necessary.

So many questions. So few answers.

Now back to work…