A victim of the Soyus Boyus bacterophage
A victim of Media induced Psychosis.

Media is a Mockery

Fictional media is a total mockery of our actual reality. It is used to distract people with pretty pictures, tight-knit story lines, and comforting messages that make the day-to-day life a little easier to bare, but, in the end, do more harm than good by giving us a false perception of a good world. This sort of supplementary satisfaction, when in small dosages and when one is already in a well state, is usually not harmful; when one can separate fiction from reality the media is fine. However, when the fictitious world becomes idealized as if it were real, problems start to occur. When a person sees a fictional world while in a poor state or over consumes fiction, the line between fiction and reality blurs. A story becomes just as, if not more, powerful than the life they live. Said person with an estranged power-dynamic on reality will see the story just as, if not more, powerful than their own experienced reality. This sort of idealization is much more prevalent when talking of visual media that have characters with high amounts of reliability. Once a situation in where a distorted reality occurs, one may begin pulling upon media as a comparison, even if they aren't aware they are doing so. This is especially true if the person in question is living in abject misery. When one subjects oneself to unlivable, inhumane conditions, that person will seek out a life without those conditions. This can manifest in many ways, but due to the modern, expansive nature of media in where one can obtain hours of content, story arcs, and characters in the span of a mere few hours, the story-driven media has become the most successful at co-opting human attention.

Media's effect on the psyche

With the acknowledgment of the escapism media provides out of the way, one must look at the effects upon the human psyche this has. Of course, the most obvious is the enforcement of sedentary ways of life. Now, this is not just sedimentation in movement, but also sedimentation in natural progress of the self. To only consume and offer no meaningful, transformative output by the end is a dangerous set of effects that will harm the person in the end. If one is not enjoying media for the purpose of gaining from it, then the person is gaining nothing. If for say, someone binge watches hours upon hours of a television show and learns nothing substantial from it or creates nothing engaging with it, that person has created a net negative on their life. Once you assign time lost to value gained, one can realize that the media has ripped the person off greatly. This, of course, is opposed to watching media, enjoying media, and learning from media and applying it to reality. This could be as simple as a child learning the moral law of "do not steal" from a fairy tale or as complex as receiving the story of another man's life and applying said life's mistakes and virtues to ones own. Of course though, fictional media is much less apt for prescribing proper life advice as it really didn't happen, but, in some cases, it can be of quality. Though, even with the surface level value statements out of the way, one must look deeper into the negative effects of media.

False Standards from media

The more horrendous part of media is the creation of an unrealistic standard that miserable people will want to seek. When one sees the glamour, animation, battles, fights, and interesting story arcs in media, they may incidental end up comparing said story arcs, ideas, and actions to their own life. This can go either positively or negatively. One could be glad that their life is not like that of a fiction, although this is a rare, short-lived, and less effective phenomenon due to the fact that someone can merely make the statement and move on. This is opposed to scenarios where people fantasize or wish they were in some form of fictional world by comparison. The miserable will dwell on these sorts of ideas, wishing for something that isn't the case[1]. This mentality of comparison will create a form of envy. Envy can be used for good to lift someone out of a situation, but if someone envious of fiction, generally speaking, it'd be impossible to achieve such a scenario since there is a complete disconnect from the unpredictability, ups and downs, and strangeness of reality compared to a media creation and its tried-and-true motions and scripts. To elaborate, real life doesn't have a "rising action", "climax", or "falling action". It isn't some formulaic entertainment that one can tune in and out of at will. Real life, sadly for us, is a chaotic thing filled with circumstantial issues and problems that arise on the fly with no script or reasoning[2]. Due to this, the formulaic structure of the fictional is sought after, but not possible due to the lacking capabilities of the individual to have total control of everything that he enjoys, yet also sustain the complexities of life. A character in fiction will have a computer as a brute fact, but in reality there is an entire supply chain that one likely doesn't know about that justifies this. This lack of complexity in the fictional world is appealing, but not possible, leaving people to wish for what never can come.

What these standards do

Finally, desires and envy when unfulfilled can lead to a lack of motivation due to the return of goods never being seen. This is known from the start by most of the sane folk due to the fact that they understand the media their seeing is fictional and therefore not obtainable, yet they still compare their world to it anyway as one naturally would after seeing a better situation. This leads to a type of agony that can occur in where someone wishes for fiction to be real, but it isn't. Some people may even dedicate themselves to a fictitious character or a fictitious archetype out of a desperate want for this thing. One can see such situations with the advent of V-Tubers, the existence of waifus past purely sexual fetishization, and the growing demand for certain character archetypes in partners (such as the wish for the "femboy" or a "tomboy" partner) that otherwise are unnatural in the population. Archetypes and falsehoods root themselves in the fetishization of a fictional world. Rather they found this fiction and media through standard platforms (television, music, movies) or by memetic means doesn't matter [3], all that matters is the fiction that is being spouted gets into one's head. As stated before, the mentally weakest and those in the worst situations are the most susceptible to this.

What can be done

Finally, what can be done about this situation? For one, so long as people have problems and there is media, there will always be a comparison made. So one of the two factors must be removed to stop this media envy from occurring. One way would be to simply remove the media, but that would be akin to taking nicotine away from a smoker rather than curing what makes them a smoker. If people drop a vice and don't fix the problem that lead them to said vice, they will end up picking up the same vice or picking a new one. Since information is naturally a spreading sort of thing and a return to a time before such spread seems almost impossible, the solution of removing media does not seem like it'd be worth it. Instead, one must look towards constructing a person so that they can enjoy the media, but not be destroyed by it. A person must be able to handle themselves, realize their life is better, and move on with their day. They will still envy the media, but it would be a short-burst of envy that fizzles out as they realize they have things to do rather than a festering obsession that can advance the ruin of someone. This is the ideal path towards preventing media escapism from becoming an addiction in someone's life.

  1. To offer a comparison to reality, most people living in a nice nation would never dwell on the fact that their life is much better than that of a resident of a poor nation. However, a resident of a poor nation seeing a richer nation would be much more inclined to dwell on the fact that there is a better nation and may end up comparing their situation in a negative light to that of the better nation..
  2. When I say "no reasoning" I mean "no observable, tangible, satisfactory, or otherwise pleasing reasoning". The reason that gas prices went up 20% is because of an intangible fluctuation in price of oil that was caused due to instability in a place one has never been. Predicating events that lead to conclusions aren't even necessarily known by the person afflicted by said conclusions. This leads to a perceived randomness or chaos in the world when one is uninformed.
  3. Well, memetics sort of do matter, but not directly. A memetic-induced reality disassociation and a traditional media induced reality disassociation are of the same quality when shared in similar snippets of equal value, but memetics spread much more than any media could ever wish to. This allows for culturally approved of ideas to move exceedingly due to the act of sharing being exponential if it is in line with what a population claims.