An insane thought came to me the other day.
I sat alone with this thought for a while and wondered how valid my ideas truly were.
I concluded that far too many of us are living a pattern of escapism.
Where did this idea come from?
The idea that far too many of us are hiding away from the bigger issues that we need to confront derived mainly from my own usage of social media and how I hear others consume content.
Specifically, I think our love of Instagram sparked this idea.
Social media in general, and Instagram in particular, has become an unfortunate hub of comparison — mainly in a negative manner.
Scroll for several minutes on Instagram and the majority of the posts you’ll see involve someone traveling and/or posing near an exotic destination.
If you were to ask any of these people posting on Instagram why they travel so much, they’d immediately reply by saying they’re broadening their horizons or something similar (at least, that’s the response I generally get).
They’re becoming more “worldy” and cultured by learning about other people, other places, and other cultures.
However, I’d find myself always getting curious by these statements. While this is somewhat anecdotal, when I briefly lived in Japan, my entire perception of reality shifted.
Living with the Japanese and practicing what they believed in within their culture began to shift my perspectives on how I, as an American, view the world and how I go through each day.
To give some brief insight into my experiences, for about a month or so, I lived in several places in Japan.
For a few weeks, I lived in an Aikido dojo and experienced life as what’s called an Uchi-Deshi.
I served as an apprentice, trained daily, practiced living as the Japanese lived (to the extent that to this day I still habitually step lightly, still remembering a general exercise we’d practice), and cleaned around the dojo.
I say this because my trip to Japan was less about pleasure, photos, or showcasing where I’ve been.
It was a chance for personal development.
But why do I bring this up?
Well, the other day I posted a status on Facebook that I was almost certain would get responses.
[As a side note, it’s always interesting to see how certain types of posts such as personal development posts, positivity, and motivation only receive a small handful of reactions and comments. However, post something that challenges a belief or post something negative like politics or controversy and prepare to get flooded with comments]
I gently challenged the idea of traveling. I questioned if it was the best type of experience one should have in life.
Since college, I would often hear that traveling is the best thing that anyone could do for their lives.
Frequently, I see posts and statuses from people explaining why everyone should travel and see the world.
They dive into the reasons that traveling makes you a better person.
They explain that you’ll become a more interesting person with a new viewpoint of the world.
However, I challenge that notion entirely.
It is said that actions speak louder than words.
And typically, I find that the actions of those that travel frequently don’t reflect the actions of one that has been introspective or has had a shift in viewpoints and philosophies.
Sure, it could be that these new ideas just aren’t being expressed aloud.
However, I doubt that’s the case.
I think more often than not, many of the people that advocate heavily for travel remain the same.
Why do they stay the same? I’ll share my thoughts on that a bit later in this article.
[I do want to make it clear that I think traveling is great when he/she that is traveling does so with an open mind and is willing to learn even if it makes them uncomfortable. I certainly don’t believe that hopping on a plane somewhere or taking a road trip automatically provides you with new insights. I consider it the same as walking from your street to a street you’ve never been to. The act of going to a new neighborhood means nothing. However, if you were to talk to the people on that street or neighborhood and invest time into understanding who they are, you’ll likely discover you’ve gained new insights that you’ve never had before.]
I overall believe that for the majority of people in 2020, there are two reasons that cause most people to travel:
1. They seek validation
2. They seek pleasure
Neither of these things are bad by any means.
As humans, I believe we all seek validation and all deserve to have validation (when validation is earned).
The same idea applies to the concept of pleasure.
I believe we all deserve moments of pleasure in our lives (when earned).
However, excessive traveling, an excessive need for validation, and an excessive desire for pleasure (being hedonistic) causes me to believe something more unfavorable is taking place as an underlying issue.
My belief: if you have an extreme desire to excessively travel, you might be an escapist. Of course, escapism in itself, much like anything and everything we do, isn’t bad when applied in moderation.
However, when taken to excess, it creates a problem. Now, I don’t think travel is the only form of escapism.
Playing video games excessively, seeking validation every day from the opposite gender, binge-watching television, etc.
These are all forms of escapism in my opinion. These are distractions that pull us away from any challenges we need to face or issues we need to confront.
Consider this scenario, you work a 9–5 job from Monday to Friday.
The moment 5pm on Friday comes, you’re rushing out to prepare for the bars.
You’re doing drugs.
You’re buying the newest video games.
You’re using several days to escape from the reality that you don’t particularly enjoy your job (because if you like something, you typically don’t want to escape from it).
Or perhaps you have kids and you’re overwhelmed.
You toil day in and day out but you feel as though you’re missing out.
So you escape.
You escape to happy hour.
You escape to Italy for a week while your parents or spouse or babysitter watches your kids.
You’re escaping your realty and your problems.
The core of this article isn’t to attack traveling, having kids, jobs, or anything like that.
At its core, I consider this article to be a call to action.
We all have issues that we know we need to deal with. However, we choose not to do so because it’s difficult.