Dangers of Escapism


Jackie Sibila, Staff Writer

Picture a black hole. An area in which the gravitational pull is so strong that nothing—not even light—can escape its force. It pulls you towards it, drags you in, makes even the smallest particle known to mankind prisoner in an area of space and time…

Now, picture your cell phone.

I suspect that the majority of us can admit we are guilty of scrolling on our phone for hours; we waste time on social media, all while avoiding work, our families, or whatever it is we have to do. We get sucked in by the gravity of our screen, that has only been strengthened by the pandemic’s forced isolation and global news of violence as well as  political turmoil unfolding online.  In the digital age, our phones and social media connect us, so it’s no surprise that they are what we turn to in need of escape. Expectantly, in a recent Griffin poll, out of 75 Dulaney students, 82.7 percent of students saw a significant increase in their screen time during quarantine with their daily screen time averaging a little over 6 hours.

Right now, you could either be thinking that you are good to go, “my screen time is so much less than that”, or you could be thinking “yikes.” Understandably, you will have a higher screen time if you spend hours everyday socializing through apps such as Facetime. However, when asked what the most used app on students’ phones was, Facetime and messages only made up 8 percent of the responses. While many do use Snapchat as means of communication, it only made up 2.7 percent of responses.

That leaves most spending their time on apps such as Tik Tok (34.7 percent), YouTube (17.3 percent), games (9.3 percent) and Netflix/Disney Plus (9.3 percent). What’s more, 44 percent of students said that they go on their phones to escape from school, news and/or work, with an additional 30.7 percent saying that they do this sometimes. I definitely fall into this category, using my phone as an escape more often than I’d care to admit, but, this practice of escapism isn’t necessarily healthy.

Studies show a correlation between escapism and symptoms of depression, as well as a correlation between phone usage and loneliness. While escaping the reality of a situation in the short term may seem like a good idea, it is far from that. Seeking a quick “way out” leads to avoiding problems, which will only worsen with time. The further you go into that black hole, the harder it is to come out. Escapism turns into something that we can’t get off of, leading to more serious issues such as screen addictions. Illustrated in the same poll, 41.3 percent of students feel addicted or the need to keep scrolling, with 24 percent more answering that they feel this sometimes.

As one student pointed out, due to higher stress levels than normal, “our brains are craving more dopamine than ever and going on your phone is a quick fix. I’m not saying it’s healthy, but it’s understandable and teens shouldn’t be ostracized for doing the best they can in unprecedented stress.”

Going on your phone isn’t a bad thing. But you should consider that maybe you go on your phone for the wrong reasons or for longer than you know you should. It is important to remember that despite everything your phone can do for you, confronting challenges can and will only make you stronger.  So, let’s review our black hole comparison.  While a black hole is inescapable, your phone is not. But, this doesn’t mean that it can’t suck you in, that it can’t drag you in its gravitational pull to keep scrolling and escape whatever it is that you want to get away from. It is important to use your phone for socialization, for things you enjoy doing, but it becomes dangerous when your phone becomes your personal black hole.

While some solutions to this problem may include deleting apps, that can be unrealistic. However there are still a few things you can do to avoid the black hole. Firstly, it’s important to recognize when you are scrolling with no purpose or going on your phone to procrastinate. Setting screen time could help you to become much more conscientious about the time you are spending on your phone. Even just keeping your phone out of your room at night will help to prevent being tempted to look at your cell phone.  Setting aside ‘no phone time’ for hobbies like drawing or hiking could also help you to avoid getting lost in your screen. Little improvements like these or changing the way you view your phone time can make a tremendous difference in avoiding the dangers of escapism.