I Needed Escapism

by MarianneShih

And by God, I had it. Generally, I hate pointless getaways – you know, when you just browse mindlessly, on and on and on and on … and on. But I’m at a point currently where I need mindless. I can’t allow myself to think. I’ve done more than enough thinking in the past twenty-four hours, and all I’ve gotten out of it are unpleasant flashbacks and quite the barrage of strong urges to commit righteous, but violent wrongdoings.

Call me melodramatic. Call me deranged, call it oversharing (Does oversharing really exist?), or whatever you please.

I finished an exam at 7:54 PM. The subject was on applying different philosophies to ethics in public administration. I was ecstatic that it was much more simple than I had imagined it to be, until I realized that my mind had began to wander. I regularly evaluate my days in order to analyze how to efficiently achieve personal goals. I question whether I was productive, how productive I was, did I enjoy my day, did I treat people well, and etc. Unfortunately for me, this includes remembering the events of the day, one of which I wish my inner wiring was better enabled to forget.

Frustration is one of those curious things that we, as living beings, feel when things do not go according to plan. Some of us have higher tolerances than others when it comes to such life mishaps. In order to escape frustration, we deal in different ways: we break things, ignore the problem, cut, drink, engage in fitness activities, eat our feelings, but mainly, get distracted.

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Due to my methodological ways of deciding whether or not I deserve to live happily, as I’ve noted above – I hate pointless getaways, because they are unproductive. I populate my Google Reader with a few blogs related to my work, maybe five blogs unrelated to my work, the #ATEC2321 Twitter feed, and visit news pages on the side. I am not a hedonist. I don’t indulge in pleasuring my environmentally-created ADD mind with endless, leisurely Tumblr browsing. Except that I did, after my exam-induced euphoria crashed and for how long? I would be too embarrassed to say.

The point is: until today, I was very much an advocate for escapism through art… and books. Books as in Pulp-things, not fancy-schmancy e-books, e-things, new-age bastardizations of something that was already flawlessly designed, unwieldy textbooks and methods of transporting Pulp-things aside. Yes, of course one can explore worlds of art through screens, but the point I make here is on reading on pressed pulp versus reading on top of agglomerations of pixels. Today on my screen of pixel-potpourri, I read through dozens of blurbs off of random Tumblr feeds, links within those Tumblr feeds, and The Onion, flitting from page to article to meme like a crazed prepubescent trying to figure out life’s hardest question(s).

I cannot say it was relief that I found. After all, here I am typing away about my reluctance to give into the ADD screen reading that is so stereotypical of my generation, while my brain is/feels like a mess. But thanks to screen reading, I’ve found direction somewhere in the pigsty that is my mind tonight: the direction being that while I will forever love pulp-things, I no longer despise screen reading. Of course I had been able to recognize its benefits before: portability, how it encourages us to interact and think in “real-time,” and promotion of self-discovery through recording our activities. Conversely, there are still things I dislike about how screen reading affects others. For example, summaries of meaningful contemplation have been shortened to 140 characters, already minuscule attention spans have disappeared, and libraries are becoming more neglected as Wikipedia has more or less achieved divinity. Despite these pitfalls, screen reading isn’t going away. Whether this will help or hurt us will be all in how we choose to use it.