Thursday, January 22, 2009


In modern society, entertainment can take a dizzying array of forms, from video games to movies to amusement parks to crossword puzzles to skydiving.

You don’t need any of it and would be better off without it.

You DO NEED exploration, play and enlightenment—that is, an opportunity to expand your experience of the world. Many art forms labeled as “entertainment” can occasionally give this to you. For example, you may see a movie that changes your view of the world and gives you a new set of tools for dealing with your own problems. You may hear a song that sticks with you because it has something meaningful to say relevant to your own life. This isn’t entertainment, I contend, but something more akin to education.

Entertainment is a product. It is usually produced by someone trying to make money and consumed by someone with little self-direction who is seeking stimulation. Because there is money to be made, a big marketing machine is usually pushing entertainment as a worthy use of your resources. Few people question what the machine tells them.

Ride our roller coaster! See our show! The marketing machine wants you to believe your life will be changed by consuming their product. Some entertainment, like a magic or acrobatic show, can be amazingly skilled. You may marvel at the “talent” displayed there, but that doesn’t mean your life is expanded by consuming it.

Entertainment is a passive product. You sit there, and the experience is dispensed to you. It is a lot different when you go out and seek an experience—say, by visiting a country you have never been to before. That is exploration, and although it may be “entertaining”, entertainment isn’t really the purpose of the journey. A cruise, on the other hand, is passive entertainment. The experience is prepared for you, and you have only to consume it.

Everyone ought ride a roller coaster, see a magic show, try a crossword puzzle and take a boat ride—once! However, after the experience is processed and understood, further repetitions of the same thing are a drain on your resources that gains you nothing. Entertainment, like caffeine, is an addiction, not a need.

Also see: Comedy

Also see: Kilroy Café #16: Mindless Entertainment Wasting Our Planet