Fallacies of fantasy and the trap of escapism

Life is hard. The stress we face relationally, financially, physically, socially, materially, and psychologically can often seem overwhelming. Sometimes we feel we just want to escape from our present reality and go to a place where that pain, struggle, stress does not exist. We might escape in watching a series, head off to the gym or engaging in a hobby. Whatever the escape, for a moment in time while we are not facing the stress, we feel relived and alive again. But then we need to re-enter the space where the stress and struggle becomes real again.

Stepping out of a stressful situation can be healthy. It allows our bodies and mind to relax for a moment. We can often think more clearly before re-engaging. Our bodies are allowed to dispel the adrenaline and toxins that are in our bodies. But when it becomes our default to avoid the stress rather than to deal with it, we are forced to face the truth that we are on an unhealthy trajectory.

Escaping our reality by seeking a fantasy space is possibly the most deceptive and dangerous way to escape. We try imagining a world or realm where our reality is not what we are experiencing. Or become a persona different to who we really are. We often prefer our fantasy persona and space because it is what we don’t think we are, or what we wish we were. This opens us up to living apart from our reality. Instead of working at changing our reality or learning how to deal with our reality, we become less engaged as our fantasy takes over as an addiction.

There are two terms describing reality I will use:

Present/actual reality: This is the world we actually live in. The world we touch, taste, smell, see, and hear. It is the reality that engages with people we live with, work with, family, friends and colleagues.

Fantasy: The reality that we create through our online persona, imagination or world that we enter into to escape present/actual reality. This reality can be heard and seen but not touched, tasted or smelled. It is a reality that exists across screens and internet connections with the perceived shield/border post of a screen.

The fallacy of fantasy is that while we are present in that space, it is reality.

It becomes our reality. We are really engaged in that space. Our minds, our bodies our being is immersed in that world that we have created from our thoughts, our dreams, and desires. If we are engaging another person through a chatroom or online communication, they are real. If we are watching pornography, the actors and actresses are real people performing whose lives are affected beyond the screen. If we are gaming, the fellow gamers are real people with real lives. They are more than their characters online. And often we can not be sure who they really are, as they can also not be sure who we are.

What we can be sure of is that there is a real world outside of the fantasy that we exist in. While we are in the fantasy space on whatever forum, it is real because we are real. And the more we default to the fantasy reality, the less present we are in our present actual reality.

The fallacy of fantasy is that our fantasy world doesn’t affect our present reality.

We feel that they are separate worlds that we can step in and out from one to the other and what happens in one remains there. It doesn’t. We can’t box our worlds because we are the reality that links them. Our thoughts, dreams, desires, insecurities, frustrations, fears and failures still live with us. This world affects the people we actually engage with in our present reality.

The fallacy of fantasy is that it helps us to cope.

Our present reality has not changed and our ability to cope or deal with it has not changed. Which means we default to trying to escape back to the fantasy world, the world where things seem better, seem pleasant, where we are what we want to be or more like what we desire. The more we do that the less empowered we are to deal with our present actual reality. What we are doing is not dealing with or working towards changing things that will make a real difference, improve our lives, and make us healthier people, we are giving up on one world to build another. A world that can never exist in our present actual reality. We exchange the truth for a lie because the fantasy world is a deception.

The trap of escapism.

As mentioned, stepping away from a stressful situation for temporary relief in a healthy way can help us cope. Escaping as a default does not. We land up spending more time in the fantasy than in our present reality and this becomes a coping mechanism that we eventually struggle to leave.

Our fantasy world becomes an unescapable trap. A trap that we find ourselves increasingly isolated in from the people who are really in our lives. The breakdown of those meaningful relationships through loss of touch, emotional engagement and presence handicaps us from being able to handle life. Isolation from meaningful relationships is one of the leading factors that support addictions or unhealthy coping mechanisms. This isolation leads us back into the cycle of escapism which strengthens the grip the fantasy world has on our lives. Eventually we can’t escape the fantasy and become trapped.

What can we do about this?

  1. Recognise if this pattern of behavior exists in your life.
  2. Choose to change it.
  3. Tell somebody you can trust, somebody who will help you move forward.
  4. Seek help to develop better/healthier coping mechanisms.
  5. Put things in place to support a healthier engagement with your present reality.
  6. If your escape is through online behavior, put time limits, blocks, filters and other tools in place that can prevent unhealthy practices. This might require a 3rd party management.
  7. Be present in your present/actual reality.
  8. Build meaningful connections with people you will actually engage with that you can interact with in person without a screen or internet connection.

For further assistance contact us at TechBear.Online and we would be happy to help you start a healthier way of living.




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