A tune for while you're reading...
The Plan to Escape
I'm sure you remember that I was fat most of my life. I was also a sad and possibly depressed kid. I felt smart and dumb at the same time, bored in some classes while I struggled in others. Girls were my friends, but not my girlfriends. In my mind, I didn't have enough friend friends, or the right friends, and I'll bet the friends I did have felt the same way. I felt all alone in this, only learning years later that 90% of the kids around me probably felt the same way, in one way or another.
I remember lying awake in bed (and in the hard or easy classes) and dreaming about getting the hell out of there. Away from school and people, to be alone and left alone. Gilligan's Island sounded pretty awesome, but unworkable in the how-to-get-to-the-island department. Surviving in the local Southern California mountains, at least in the spring and summer, seamed like a decent option though. That would be extreme camping, but how hard is that?
I never did it, though. I only thought about it. Constantly.
Unhappy and overweight, another benefit of these extreme vacations was the self imposed make or break diet and exercise plan. In my mind, I came back at the end of the summer and everything in my head (and body) and been worked out. I was happy and slim and ready to get back into life.
Whether I was chicken shit or realistic (or some of each) I won't admit. You be the judge. And, those of you who've had those dreams yourself, notice that you also didn't actually do it. You just thought it, and possible still think about it.
Escape from Reality via Reality TV
In my teens, I was daydreaming of running off to my own personal version of Survivor to escape from the people that I didn't have in my life and to lose weight. In my mind, the two were tied together -- losing weight was the key to getting a girlfriend and more friends that actually wanted me around. Rather than add drama here and come back around to this point, I'll just say that I now know that my friends did want me around, but my own insecurities didn't let me see that. I'm sticking to my guns on the girlfriend, though!
Back to the issue...
I think that the popularity of certain reality television shows is catering to this unspoken, secret fantasy that so many of us have (Yes, have. Still).
Survivor is pure escapism. 30 plus days away from your worldly troubles. No one really wants to leave their family behind on purpose. We love them. We would miss them. Plus, they need us, either directly or for our money and support. We can't leave work for any great length of time, either because work really needs us or we're afraid to find out how little work actually does need us... With Survivor, we're given a 30+ day "pass" on all that. Tossed onto an island with 20 people in the same boat, we get to make friends with people who are our "equals," and try to last until the end and win the big bucks. Those big bucks lead to happiness and more friends, right? Even though we know money doesn't buy happiness, we know it actually does for us.
The Biggest Loser is like fat camp with a chance to win money! Yes, I dreamed of fat camp, too. Some place that would have forced me to eat right and exercise. See the previous paragraph on Survivor, because TBL is Survivor with personal trainers and treadmills.
The Apprentice is a little different, but in addition to the "fresh start," you get to show how awesome you are. Personally, I never thought I'd do well on The Apprentice, but many people do. What escape fantasies did they have as a kid?
There are other shows that I've seen once or twice. The Amazing Race seems fun, but not enough to watch every week. I don't know what that show says about the people who apply.
The Colony is scary. The people on the show are scary. They seem like the kind that actually dreamed about the end of civilization. It's a very negative show, from the few I've seen.
The military fits in here, somewhere. It's not a tv show, but people join the military to escape. I almost did.
I've often wondered about other people's escape daydreams. Mine are still pretty similar to the ones I had as a kid, but with a positive twist. Of course, there's no more daydreams of fat camp, but Survivor comes to mind. 30 or so days? Cake, and a vacation with a chance at millions. I'd miss my family, but I think they'd understand, since they love the show, too. It's no longer to get away from them, anyway. It's getting away from stresses of life. Even on an actual vacation, how many of us are spending precious brain time thinking about what they could be doing for work? Too many.
I put up the Message In A Bottle video for a reason. When we go off to the desert island, fat camp, Survivor, or run away from home as a little kid, we want to be missed. We want to be found. Looked for. Sought out. How many times didn't we leave because we feared not being missed. And feared that as much as we feared being hungry, alone, or scared?
I just typed up this long blog post, assuming others are on the same page as me. How embarrassing if I'm all alone in this... I doubt it. At work, or lunch with friends, people's eyes light up as they mention how great they'd be at Survivor. I've even had someone tell me that being sequestered on a jury would be a welcome thing (His job must have really sucked that day)!
With all that in mind, I don't think I'm alone.