The Entertainment Death Trap

Entertainment is the experience of watching or attending an event, whether real or not, current or past, and relishing the fact that you can be “present” from a safe distance. 

The one being entertained usually has an intense curiosity about the subject matter: they want to get as close as they can to “the scene”, soak up every fine detail, just like a voyeur.  They want to “be there” with all their senses, but not really be there physically, as the latter would come with consequences and complications.  They are aroused by being able to get as close as they like to where the action is, but experience none of the fallout: they would dread becoming a participant in the story, a role which could come with responsibilities, such as having to take decisions that affect the course of events. 

Entertainment provides the audience with the best of both worlds:  they can have all the fun in the world, but suffer none of the consequences. 

It is not difficult to see why this is highly addictive.  Entertainment allows the audience to live a “hyper-reality” full of exciting risks and rich scenarios beyond their wildest imagination, even though it is all theatre.  This is why some of the most successful entertainment comes in the form of video games, which create this super-exciting hyper-reality that the audience craves.  The player feels more alive than ever, living in the shoes of their fearless avatar, an imaginary person that they could never live up to.  At the same time, they don’t have to endure any of the suffering that their avatar goes through.  In fact, as a “player”, they have extra lives to spare.  They have infinite lives in fact.  The ultimate high for the player is that at the end of it all they get to defeat death, their worst inner fear. 

This is why voyerism and entertainment are the ultimate highs for humans.  The defeat of death, even though virtual, provides a feeling of invincibility, much like Class A drugs.  The virtual reality that entertainment provides is addictive, exactly because it is too good to be true. It is great to be able to safely step out of your comfort zone as an avatar, without ever leaving your armchair.  Whatever happens to the avatar can’t affect you.  You can always turn the TV off, switch the channel, start a new video game.  The life that you are living now is the most exciting life you have ever lived, but it is taking place on another universe far away, that can never affect you. 

Entertainment is always seen as a simulation.  The problem is that there are too many real events happening in the world today that are treated as entertainment, because we’ve played too many video games and seen too much theatre.  There are too many real, actual events that are treated by the audience as a simulation, exactly because they have been conditioned to see them as entertainment. 

In other words, after a while the voyer becomes unable to distinguish their own life from the hyper-life of their avatar.  The lines between reality and hyper-reality begin to blur dangerously.  The voyer’s addiction to the hyper-reality gets the better of them, as their real life can never measure up to their imaginary world in either vividness, color or intensity.  They need a constant supply of their entertainment drugs.  And the more they use them, the more they think that their real life sucks. 

As the voyer sinks further and further into hyper-reality, their real, actual life begins to take a turn for the worst, to become neglected.  They sink into passive oblivion.  They become permanent voyeurs, pursuing escapism and consumerism to the point that entertainment actually does become their real life, at least in their head. 

As with all addicts, they become increasingly unable to tend to the everyday things happening right here, right now.  They lose any appreciation not only for their own life, but for their family, nature, the small things in life such as two minutes of sunlight or a beautiful flower.  The voyer has completely lost track of their real life.  All life events are now treated as entertainment: wars, fires, floods are not news to them anymore.  They are just images with sound, coming from the video game.  In their eyes and ears, these real-life events don’t feel real anymore.  They have simply become part of the entertainment.  They can be safely ignored, just like the events in the life of the avatar. 

They are in for a very rude awakening, of course.

It is easy to see how we, as a society, collectively became entertainment zombies.  As we began to spend more and more of our lives inside screens, our actual life became part of the entertainment, in the most perverse cognitive inversion that could ever be possible.  The worst part of it is that by becoming passive voyeurs, we are unable to see, critique and manage our own reality.  We can only live inside the video game, which has been carefully manicured by corporations, governments and elites who want us to progress from one level of the game to the next in predictable, controlled, pre-determined steps without questioning who we are, where we are, and where we are going.   

We are in fact, not even real anymore. We have become the avatar.  We have become digital code.  As substance and humanity gradually disappear from civilization, so do the common sense and critical thinking which are so essential in processing and critiquing our own reality.  Death arrives suddenly, as the voyer realizes too late that this was not in fact a video game.   There is no START NEW GAME screen.  The real game, which is the game of all games, is now over.

George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books

8 thoughts on “The Entertainment Death Trap

  1. The mutation that formed humans left us without a completely formed script to follow. We get to partially create our own script. We call that culture. Cult for short. We live out a fabricated fantasy from our ability to imagine. We imagine ourselves as natures most important species when in fact we are the least important to the health of this stimulus response cannibalistic life form we call the biosphere. Our fantasy cults are at odds with how the biosphere works its magic. The biosphere funtions as an integral whole, not a bunch of independent contractors. Our cults are beginning to show their flaws in a big way now and we are beginning to realize how deep we are into overshoot. Overshoot is a bitch to get out of without pain and suffering. The four horsemen are always at our heels because are fantasies are not in harmony with reality. Love Rick

      1. Thank you George. Reading your well written words helps my emotional infp brain organize my thoughts and feelings about life with an improved sense of acceptance and forgiveness. Thanks for the help. Rick

    1. The problem of this mutation is that it makes you believe you need a script to follow. This mutation ( that I see happening when the neocortex developed) is not the root problem ; the fuck up is how a small part of our brain is leading the game instead of being kept in line by our ancient connected consciousness, all the rest of our ( very ancient)brain , our body. The idea of needing a script comes from this rational, measuring, calculating, abstract, civilization building, based on the clock worldview . I really like what you say in cults and that the biosphere ( including all sentient) functions as an integral whole. It is this perception that this small part of our brain inhibits I think. Or something close.

      1. Hi sophie, life seems to present itself as a seduction, motivated by base drives. Monkey see monkey do. For the rest of the animals subsistence is about all they can muster. We are obviously freaks. The mutation has given us super hero powers. Our intellectual ability to problem solve and exploit makes us a super predator. It also made us very high maintenance. A gift and a curse. A large percentage of our kind is quite comfortable exploiting everything blindly oblivious to any present and future consequences. Part of the mutation is like having amnesia. No continuity with the past. We live out a human concocted story of why we are here. We are the heroes of our own imagination. The pecking order is mother nature’s rationing system. With civilization aka overshoot we learned that our fellow human and other animals could be used as an energy source. Civilization is the harnessing of human self interest in an enormous way. There are other life forms that operate this way, but lack the intellectual ability to do much damage. We slipped into the perfect trap. We have become so successful at exploitation that we are in a state of perpetual overshoot. But obviously not indefinitely. All the world is a stage. We are the actors in a selffulfilling prophecy of our own making. “Evolution was all about us and ends by us.” We have unconsciously let narcissism, hierarchy, cleverness with a bit of empathy, and overshoot trap us in a collectively suicidal fantasy. There is no free lunch. Subsistence is the only sustainable way to live. We are living off the principle. All other life lives off the interest only. We are what can happen to hydrogen after what we think may be about 14 billion earth years. The ultimate stimulus response succession. Life forms are the elements assembled to have an emotional self experience of themselves. “God” aka Energy experiencing itself through form. When I appreciate a beautiful sunset, that is not my imaginary self, “Rick”, it is that part of me that actually created the universe, whatever name you want to call it. Each part animate and inanimate is both creature and creator. The universe appears to be the creative urge writ large. Problem for us is there are no favorites. It is more likely than not impersonal and personal at the same time. The tragedy is our collective inability to appreciate that we really are a part of The Magical Mystery Tour. We are so confused. We can’t get the chimp out of our head. Love Rick p.s. I deeply miss lord hugh.

      2. Hi, I only knew him from the internet, but fell in love with his intellect and emotion about the human predicament. Even though from the biosphere’s perspective we are the least important part, life in general including us tool using apes may be quite rare in the cosmos. Given the seemingly haphazard nature of the evolutionary process of stimulus response that created our planet and lifes freakishly magic experience of itself, that alone should be seen as something worth preserving because of its possible rarity. But alas our biology appears to be dooming us to be a temporary phenomenon. Our inability to function as a single organism within the confines of sustainable limits has turned us into a wrecking ball. An invasive species hellbent on using our cleverness to irresistibly rearrange the planet to our liking and perpetually fill it with our kind. Our base drives run amok. The cult of make believe as Derek has so aptly called it. We are acting like immature children. “If” we are maturing it appears to be happening to slowly to avoid a lot of emotional and physical suffering and the extinction of millions of other special life forms. Hugh seemed to realize the specialness of our planet and the enormity of our human predicament like many of us who are paying attention. I thank him for caring deeply. We have let the least among us make up the rules of engagement for our kind and in our inability to act and organize in any other form except hierarchy, and act responsibly, we are trapped in overshoot and collapse. We do not know how to share this amazing planet with each other of all kinds. From my emotional experience it feels ridiculously stupid and tragic. But of course I am still living the life of a hypocrite. I am not living like Ted Kaczynski without the bomb making. It is not going to be without emotional pain and lots of physical suffering to undo the cult of make believe. It is a powerful fantasy. Collectively it is probably impossible with our current level of maturity and understanding. There is no free lunch and all is one. UNI- verse. One song. One stage. One play. Love always Rick

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