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Analyzing the role of fiction within our lives

| Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Anna Falk | The Observer

In our age dominated by entertainment, fiction has become a crucial aspect of our lives. This accessibility of fiction is, in some ways, one of the reasons we have the Scene column in the first place. Now, more than ever, we are able to freely cultivate the ability to immerse ourselves in creative, mythical worlds. However, while there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying works of fiction, it is also crucial to examine the problems with excessive escapism. 

The role of stories is indispensable to human societies, as we have been storytellers since time immemorial. Fictional worlds provide a unique escape from everyday life, offering excitement, adventure, and novel emotional experiences we do not often encounter in reality. These stories can be a source of solace and inspiration, offering brief reprieves from the challenges of existence.

However, the problems of escapism arise when we surrender an excessive amount of our time and emotional energy to these fictional realms. It is not uncommon for us to become engrossed in elaborate universes, where hours turn into days, and days into weeks, all in the name of entertainment. This excessive devotion comes at a cost.

Firstly, escapism can undermine the moral value of our lives. While fiction has the potential to be a powerful tool for personal growth and societal change, it often falls short of this potential when we consume it mindlessly. Instead of using fiction to inspire positive change in the real world, we may find ourselves trapped in a cycle of consumption, where we merely seek to satisfy our emotional cravings without translating those emotions into tangible actions. A good use of fiction should be productive in shaping our lives and inspiring change in the world around us. But too often we are engrossed in these elaborate universes and do not actually spend ourselves in favor of the universe around us and the people we are called to love.

The emotional toll of excessive escapism is often underestimated. When we invest our emotions deeply in fictional characters and storylines, we may experience love, hate, fear and anger with an intensity that rivals real-life experiences. These emotions, however, are ultimately directed toward imaginary entities, leaving our emotional lives tattered and worn. Consequently, when real-life situations demand genuine emotional responses, we may find ourselves depleted. Emotional exhaustion extends beyond the individual to society as a whole, and I believe it contributes to the apathy and indifference we find at large. When our emotional energy is consistently invested in fictitious worlds and characters, we become desensitized to the pressing issues of our reality. Real problems often fail to elicit the same emotional responses that fictional ones do. We may overlook or remain indifferent to injustice, or to the people around us that require our attention. The allure of fictional worlds can be so captivating that it distracts us from the moral imperative to engage with the real world. Our emotional investment in these fictional realms, if not balanced with reason, can leave us emotionally depleted and apathetic to the issues that truly matter.

We must practice embracing our reality and appreciating the simplicity and beauty of the ordinary. We can only do this if we engage with our reality more frequently. When we are constantly immersed in narratives filled with marvels, grandiose adventures and tremendous feats, our perspective becomes skewed and we can fail to see how our everyday lives can be meaningful. Being attentive is the key to unlocking such treasures. Too often, our attention is diverted to the various forms of entertainment it can grasp onto. Attentiveness requires us to be fully present in the moment and to notice the subtleties and nuances that surround us. It is the portal wherein the ordinary transforms into the extraordinary, and the mundane becomes a source of wonder. 

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About Marcelle Couto

Marcelle was born in Rochester, Minnesota, but she was raised in São Paulo, Brazil. She is a Junior double-majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies and Philosophy & Theology. Marcelle lives in Cavanaugh and loves the hall's spirit of "Embracing the Chaos".

Contact Marcelle