Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Geek Philosophy 101: Ethical Escapism by Justin Rhodes

We are well aware that consumerism is rampant in our society. There is a constant pressure to buy this, watch this, eat that, do this, do that, and try not to have your head spin while doing so. Most people get by just fine feeding into that machine minimally, but we, the few, the proud, the geeks, we buy into it whole hog. We consume media at an alarming rate, where binge watching is the norm. We are the orphan boy who says "Please, Sir, may I have some more?" and instead of the gruff Orphan Master's incredulous "MORE!?", we are greeted with something more akin to "Sure. Go ahead kid, knock yourself out." I'm not saying this is entirely a bad thing, but the question is, how can we make sure that we are not overloading ourselves and yet still enjoy all of our wonderful geekery? Is there a way to still devour the things we love, without having it take over our entire lives? Here are some thoughts for a more conscious kind of consumption:

1) Make sure you are not trying to match your life to the things you read or watch.

This is a common pitfall we need to actively try to avoid. Your life is not a television show, movie, or novel. These are fabrications, often wonderful ones, but they are entirely purposeful, and the dull middle parts have been skillfully omitted. The truth is that a vast majority of our lives are quite boring. Few shows of movies feature prolonged stints at the DMV, for example. Well, except for Reaper.

The DMV being a gateway to hell sounds about right.

We subconsciously try to match what happens in our lives to what we experience through stories, because we like narrative. It's easy and digestible. Fight the narrative. Become comfortable with the unexciting.

2) Realize when you're using media to avoid what you should be doing.

 I am guilty of this . I can't tell you how many evenings I came straight home from work, popped open a beer and watched several successive episodes of Supernatural.
At this point I would like to ask Jensen Ackles & Jared Padalecki to please stop confusing my sexual identity. (You're not confused. Everyone is gay for Dean. -Ed)

Next time, before you open Netflix or Hulu, pause and think if there's something else you should do, even just for a second. Make a deal with yourself to work on that mysterious something (in my case it's usually writing,)  even just for 15 minutes before you marathon. 15 minutes everyday starts to add up to a rather substantial amount of time as the days go on.

3) Realize when you are using media to avoid what you are feeling.

The art of sitting with and processing your own feelings is slowly becoming a lost one. Most people would rather distract themselves from what's going on around them than think, even for a second, about why they would want to. If we don't distract ourselves, we run the risk of feeling that void, of delving into existential crisis zone where we question the purpose of everything. We need that boost, that quick fix. We need it in order to make sure that we don't feel. Sometimes I wonder if we all aren't just playing a game of Tiny Wings with our minds.
Weeeeee! Dopamine!
I'm not saying to avoid the things we love entirely. I fall into so many fandoms that I absolutely love and look forward to (New Rick & Morty on October 7th, everybody! Edit: Oops, that's the DVD release date. Got mixed up. We'll have to wait until mid 2015 for more. Supernatural airs on this date though.) There is, however, a time for enjoying the things you love and that fill you up and a time for reflection. I encourage you to find the proper balance.

Happy watching and reading, everybody. Just remember that you've got a life to live too.
 Justin Rhodes is a San Francisco Bay Area native with a background in writing, game design, film, and theatre. 

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