Why Do We Crave Fantasy?

Published Mar 6, 2021 12 PM

I think that we all hate reality; those of us who can deal with reality may hate it a little less – and maybe not all that much less, after all. We’ve known people who throw scornful glances at their peers, people who are shocked when the world doesn’t move to their pace, people who have a deeply rooted disdain of authority, and, of course, those who fear rejection from society were they to fail. 

When we read a book of myths and stories depicting great heroes or board games which invigorate the imagination, we play with impossible situations.

Why? Simply because we wish to ponder such situations’ ridiculousness, we could live or experience what could not happen. This is not to say that fantastical worlds do not contain elements reminiscent of our own experiences. The way these stories weave our experiences with a false reality lets us release the shackles of logic and intertwine our selves within concepts and ideas which cannot persist within the boundaries of reality. It enables us to place ourselves in the presence of great heroes slaying beasts proportional to oil tankers while riding the bus home. Or to feel the breeze of a vast and elusive landscape while sitting at the dinner table. We can exercise our imagination, appealing to our love of the unknown. When presented with a world with its own set of history, magic, creatures, and people, we are exhilarated to understand the world by slowly discovering it like a puzzle. Every discovery gives us a hit of dopamine. It is like a drug embedded in the word.

Of course, all drugs should be taken in moderation. Similarly to how taking a quick smoke after work calms our nerves, readers who drown in their contempt of reality dose on fantasy quite regularly. Instead of a chemically induced hallucination, we voluntarily immerse ourselves in stories to isolate reality. It gives us a reprieve from the negativity we are typically followed by. The demand for such media was recognized. There are stories of characters who have died and moved to a fantasy/game-like world. The characters can abandon their dead-end jobs, poor prospects, and responsibilities. These scenarios allow us to divert our focus from our problems and responsibilities, even if only for a little bit. But we should be moderate the time we escape from reality. Just like if we smoke too much, our lungs collapse; if we ignore the fact for too long, our life will break down eventually. Through the hardship we attempt to escape from, our lenses of the world start to distort and crack.

As we age our damaged lens distort everything we knew. Back then we thought there were good guys and bad guys, people who love us and hate us, only black and white. But now nothing is so plain and simple. We lost the innocence which allowed us to see the world so clearly. Sometimes, however, fantasy lets us regress to our younger selves. It is just that the irrationality and simplicity of some fantasy allows the room for our emotions to run amok. It lets us take a break from the constant need to analyze minute details and rest within the black and white.

The drug called fantasy has an important job to do. It appeals to everything we lack in life. It is an unrestricted reality, our thoughts are left to run wild, our happiness unrestricted. It fills the void that the hatred of life creates.

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