Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More escapes from reality

tourism, entertainment, spectator sports, movies, television,

Recently I wrote a blog entry in which I wondered how the world would be affected if the escapist nature of tourism were refocused.

In further thinking about this theme, it is easy to see that the tourist trade isn't the only area where tremendous time, energy, and money is directed toward escaping from a dreary reality.

One might easily say that most entertainment, spectator sports, the movie industry, much of television, radio, the music business, a great deal of magazine, newspaper and book publishing activities are all offering to differing degrees different ways of escaping from a daily routine.

Now I can imagine someone bringing up the old refrain "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," but I think it is a pretty poor justification for not attempting to consider the possibility of trying to turn a substantial portion of our diversions into efforts which will do more than simply distract our attention for a few moments from a reality which we don't find agreeable.

Play, at one time, was used as a way of instructing children (and possibly others) skills and lessons which would serve them in the future. There still are some games around that intend to do this, but I believe that probably the majority of the toys, games and diversions which are sold and used today don't even pretend to begin to consider what, if any, educational value they might be to the user or participant.

Many of the professional, spectator sports that exist today, have their roots in activities that were originally used for training soldiers and keeping them in good condition, but what value does a spectator gain? The answer to this is one of the principal reasons why Gadafhi chose to ban spectator sports in Libya. (I'm not necessarily endorsing all of Gadafhi's ideas, but this is one which might be worth thinking about.)

If we were to examine the history of art, music and literature I'm sure we'd discover that many of the great inspirational classics were created (or at least became classics) because they gave the observer, listener or reader something more than just a brief period in which they might forget about their dreary lives. How much of what is produced and popularized through radio, television, motion pictures, magazines, etc today, have any residual value except for wrapping fish?

When one starts to add up the millions of people who work directly and indirectly in activities which might be considered diversionary, and all the resources which are consumed every second of every day to produce something which has absolutely no lasting value to anyone the numbers would be overwhelming.

As I stated when I was wondering about tourism, I'm not judging anyone who is participating in any aspect of these activities as being bad or even with evil intentions. But when one takes into account how much of the time effort and energy used in the world is directed toward useless ends, it becomes difficult to even begin to imagine how much to world would improve if even a significant fraction were redirected toward ends which would help better everyone.

Here are just a few hastily-thought-of suggestions of how the satus quo might be improved:
  1. Every animated cartoon were created with the idea of educating the audience with something useful
  2. Every songwriter chose to leave his listener with some attitude, information or skill which would help them live a better life.
  3. Every person who attended a sporting event as a spectator were required to participate in some physical activity as part of their entrance fee.
  4. Every paperback novel and magazine article introduced a new term, or useful idea to the reader.

Of course I'm dreaming if I believed that this would become a reality in my lifetime, but, in the meantime by raising these thoughts, perhaps I might encourage a few individuals to look at their own lives and activities and perhaps start asking themselves: "How can I change what I do to either improve myself, or improve things for others?"

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