Last week’s article got me thinking about the different ways through which we avoid reality. Distraction is good some times; that’s why kids have toys. They can’t be left to face real life as it is without some form of distraction. They need to remain kids by taking their minds off of real life, and getting completely distracted from time to time by the games they play.
As they grow into adults, though, it will no longer be wise to keep being distracted and avoiding the realities of life. We see it today, don’t we? Adults affected by peer pressure and acquiring bigger ‘toys’ than their neighbours – spending money that would have taken care of essentials at home. From the outside looking in, it is ugly to us. We judge such people and wonder why they just can’t snap back to reality and stop acting like kids. But when we look at our own lives objectively, we will find that we too chase after similar frivolities in order to keep ourselves distracted from the tough realities of life.
Here are three common ways we distract ourselves from reality.
I chuckled one day when I saw a post on Facebook by one of my friends. He wrote that he had never heard people condemn parties as one of Nigeria’s major problems, or call for the ban of parties. Yet he hears people complain that we have too many churches in Nigeria. Every week people are packed in these churches, and we are still not moving forward as a country. Therefore, churches should be banned so that we can move forward, since it’s clear that that’s our biggest problem.
But there are parties every weekend in Nigeria, too. Clubs in Lagos are packed on Friday nights, and event centres are buzzing with wedding reception parties on Saturdays. Yet, no one has made the observation that maybe this could be one of the things holding us back as a people. After all, if we channeled the time and energy we spent at these parties into more productive endeavours, we’d surely be better off as a nation.
Well, we need these parties to unwind from the daily drudgery of living in such a vibrant city, I guess. But don’t you think we take it too far most times?
This one we have taken too far, even in the name of spirituality and religion. I was shocked to hear that an aunt of mine was blaming someone else for her illness. “She did it to me.” Come on! How can we then treat common illness now, if the diagnosis is not malaria but an uncle? Do we give the drugs to the uncle to take so that we get cured?
Nigerians have found a way to blame someone else for negative things that happen to them. We are not developed industrially because of the colonial masters who granted us independence many years ago. We are not pregnant when we want because an old woman in the village has tied up our wombs. We had an accident, not because of bad roads or reckless driving, but because ‘they’ followed us from the village and we forgot to soak the roads in the blood of Jesus. So many superstitious beliefs, I can’t mention them all. But you know. I know. We know all those things we may not even say out loud but believe deep down in our hearts and attribute to the cause of our problems.
These are distractions. These keep you from accepting reality and finding positive solutions to deal with it. Superstitious beliefs will keep our eyes closed for as long as we don’t want to see reality.
Our phones! How many hours a day do you spend looking at your phone? There’s this screen-time monitoring thing that the iPhone has. I’m usually at an average of three hours a day and that concerns me. It’s concerning because I know that much of those hours are during work. That means I have my phone distracting me from the reality of work, most days.
I’ve also noticed that many of the WhatsApp groups I’m in buzz like crazy only during the weekdays. They’re mostly silent on weekends (when everyone is out partying and attending weddings, anyway). So it means that many others are largely distracted from the reality of work too. That’s not facing real life. That’s playing!
We also allow ourselves to be hugely distracted by other electronics such as TV, computers, video games, etc. It would be very revealing and instructive if you took the time to monitor how many hours a day you spend on your electronics, and compare that to how many hours a day you’re awake and supposedly active. You’d see how distracted you are and how much of an effort you put into staying that way.
When we’re no longer kids; we ought to put aside those childish ways of being easily distracted from life by the side-shows that are not reality. We ought to grow up and face life as it is, tackle what needs to be tackled when it needs to be tackled. After that is done, if there’s any spare time left, then we may spend it on those hobbies that help to relax our minds. The goal should be to relax and not to escape.
So why don’t you look at your own life objectively and think of any other ways by which you hide away from reality and avoid facing the music. Think of solutions to them, too, and share with us in the comments below.