The Pitfalls Of Escapism

Everyone needs a form of escapism from the harsh realities of this world. Switch on the news today, and you will hear tales of war, death, terrorism, and any number of crimes. Very little positive news is displayed or regaled, even in politics, all arguments are in essence forms of insults or the kind of arguments you’d expect to hear in a school playground. It is rather frustrating that we have taken such a rather bleak view of life, and then there is a sort of wonder as to why depression and anxiety diagnoses are on the rise.

It is with this frame of mind that people often turn to a form of escapism, something that will take them away from the harsh and volatile reality of the world that lies before us, and into a place, a mindset wherein we can forget the troubles that are part and parcel of our daily lives, however this is not always a good thing, and escapism can become rather addictive, as I can personally attest to.

My escapism has always been gaming, ever since before I started primary school my way of unwinding involved a games console, to the point where I have owned most if not all of the consoles released from the original NES onward. However during all this time, my addiction to escapism kicked in when I was in my late twenties.

A couple of years earlier I had begun playing World of Warcraft and I enjoyed it immensely, and it is something that I enjoy playing even today, PVP, PVE and even RP, I enjoyed all aspects of the game, and again still do today. However during my late twenties I went through one of the darkest periods of my life, one that spanned over two years, and during this time, WoW became something else for me entirely.

As I have mentioned above, I enjoyed RP (role-playing) quite a bit, and I had different characters with different personalities, families, backgrounds and their own stories and plot lines. During this time I became quite well known in my own server’s community and was quite respected for my storytelling and role-playing abilities, yet this was not actually my addiction, the addiction lay in the stories themselves.

My characters were in control of the chaos that was their lives, they had to deal with a lot of issues and troubles, but in the end, they always managed to make something better of it. They also had one thing that I personally lacked at the time, a sense of identity, a sense of purpose, they knew who they were, I didn’t.

This world became very addictive for me, I delved into the stories and the characters I had created, to the point where I was intensively researching the character traits, conditions and even the world that they had established themselves in, to add further detail and depth to the life that I had created for my characters. The actual game or indeed the stories themselves was not the addiction however, the addiction was what these stories represented to me.

My life was utter chaos and in turmoil at this point, I’ll be honest, I was suicidal, and desperate for something, ANYTHING, to give me hope. I felt that I had no hope, no control over any aspect of my life, so I had two choices, I could either leave this life permanently, or create a new life for myself, something better than what I had, even if it was a virtual one, I chose the latter.

The world I had created for my characters was far more tempting that the reality I lived in. My characters were everything I wasn’t, confident, strong, powerful, sure of their actions, they had something I lacked, clarity of thought. It was easy for me to dive into this world and exist solely in it. There were times where I would stay awake for over thirty six hours, just to see the culmination of one part of a story that I had created, sleep was not required nor needed, all I needed was these stories, and my life and world around me suffered because of it.

There is nothing wrong with gaming, and as aforementioned above, I still play World of Warcraft to this day, the game was not the issue, I was. My need for escapism from the harsh realities of this world, and of daily life, became uncontrollable, it consumed me. Escapism can be a rather useful tool, a great way to unwind from the pressures of daily life, but it can also become an addiction, one that was dangerous enough to almost cost me my life, my world and everything I care about.

In this world we need a way to escape from all the negative news and information that the media regales us with each day, and from our own struggles, but the best way to escape from such things, is by using your method of escapism in moderation and more importantly of all, have some hope, hope that things will get better, that the world will get better, because honestly, they do and it does.

Until next time,
The Raven

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