Let’s take a look.
Distraction is perfectly fine… in small doses
First of all, it bears mentioning that a distraction isn’t in and of itself a bad thing. Since the 1970s the Hollywood blockbuster has been a precision engineered to distract us from our woes. Heck, it’s arguable that the reason the first Star Wars was so successful is because it created a welcome distraction from the politically tumultuous landscape of that time. Successful movies of the time prior to George Lucas’ space opera had mostly been gritty cop dramas or disaster flicks which leaned into the inequity and uncertainty of life in contemporary America. Star Wars offered audiences a chance to escape from their woes in a galaxy far, far away.
With this in mind, we can see the value of distraction in small doses. Movies and TV shows can give us a narrative vacation that allows us to escape our problems both internal and external. Star Wars alone has saved more than its share of lives. However, we need to consider distraction the lifestyle equivalent of a delicious chocolate cake. It should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet of activities.
Just how chill is Netflix and chill?
The streaming age has brought huge volumes of content to our homes. We now have access to more movies and TV shows than we can shake a remote control at. In the current climate, it’s clear to see how such services might seem like the answer to our prayers.
However, going back to the chocolate cake analogy, it’s easy to see why a diet that consists only of large quantities of chocolate cake might not be conducive to our mental health. Netflix and chill might actually leave us feeling less than chilled in the long term.
Psychologists and health professionals of all kinds have warned against the dangers of binge watching media. It has been linked to lack of sleep and / or poor quality of sleep, insomnia and potential exacerbation of existing issues like depression and anxiety. Thus, our savior in these uncertain times might prove harmful to us if we don’t monitor our relationship with it.
Furthermore, too much streaming can put more stress on your home network and create bandwidth issues for spouses or family members working from home. Perhaps relying more on physical media will allow us to find a happy medium. When we rely on physical discs for our media, it’s much easier to track our consumption as we move from one disc to another. We also have a reason to get up and out of our seats to change discs. We can also use this as the impetus to take a stretch, go for a walk, make a drink or fix a snack for our loved ones. The picture quality’s better too!
You bet your bottom dollar
In an era where you can bet on everything from the outcome of “virtual sports” to which are the most arrested celebrities online, online casinos and gaming sites can be a fun outlet. So long as we treat them responsibly, of course. Put in its proper context, using a gambling site can be the fun equivalent of treating yourself to a night at a casino after a hard day’s work. Some even have a social networking element so you can make new friends and meet existing friends online as you try your luck at different games together. And who can deny the thrill of a win at a time when every single penny helps.
Of course, it’s also vital that you gamble responsibly online. The euphoria you feel after a win can be a high that you continue to chase. As such, gambling can become addictive, and online gaming combined with a coronavirus lockdown can make it easier to become the new norm. Ensure that you have a network who you trust to ensure that you enjoy all the fun of online gaming while maintaining a healthy relationship with it.
Gaming the algorithm
Speaking of unorthodox ways to make money in the digital realm, let’s not forget that there are lots of ways in which you can make money by playing video games. With the world on lockdown, there has been a colossal boom in the video gaming industry. Indeed, games have become such an endemic part of our response to the lockdown that developers have even begun posting Coronavirus safety messages within their games, encouraging gamers to stay indoors and save lives.
It seems as though the world has fallen in love with video games again and this brings with it new opportunities for the savvy. From reinventing yourself as a games journalist to building an audience to make money as a streamer, with a renewed interest in the medium, they have the potential to create life changing outcomes.
Of course, getting to the point where you can make money from games (whether playing or developing them) is far from easy. Still, weighing up your options can help you to see the sheet breadth and scope of opportunities out there. In the digital age, the traditional career path is becoming increasingly anachronistic. If you’re currently struggling because you’ve lost your job or your income as a result of the pandemic, it’s important to remember that with enough hard work and dedication you can get a job doing what you love. And that should be an encouragement to all of us!
Crossing a Bridge
If there’s one game that’s been credited with single handedly rescuing the mental health of the world during the lockdown it’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This adorable game has not only provided a wholesome distraction to enjoy in our free time, it’s also given us an opportunity to spend quality time with friends through the game. There’s nothing quite like meeting up with cute cartoon facsimiles of your friends and exploring the island homes you’ve made for yourselves together. Heck, it’s even made Twitter a nicer place. The positive and wholesome tone of the game coupled with the emphasis on building, growing and forging friendships makes it more than just a welcome distraction. It’s genuinely helped a lot of people with their mental health in this difficult time.
Remember who your real friends are
Speaking of social media, it’s important to focus your time on positive interactions with your real friends. Social media can be a fun way to stay in touch with friends, or kill a few minutes while you’re waiting for your morning coffee to brew. Just be wary of the toxicity of strangers. The pseudo anonymity of social platforms like Twitter can cause people to be way meaner than they would ever be in real life. Especially when it comes to things like politics.
You need to curate your social experience, building it around the friends who will give you the social support that you need… as well as sharing fun pictures and memes that will make you smile.
The final analysis
Entertainment will no doubt be an important factor in helping us to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown with our wellbeing intact. It can be a ray of hope in a bleak moment in history. However, it’s up to us to define our relationship with our entertainment media and decide whether we want it to distract us, or elevate us.