Love and Escapism

August 16, 2009

I like to at least skim the New York Times each day to keep up on what is going on in the world. Also, as Seth Godin noted everyone else reads it, so it makes it a really easy jumping off point for good conversations.

That said, I don’t usually read all the way through an article. I did read all the way through this one. The short version is that there is a 2D love movement in Japan. Some men’s fandom of a 2D character has grown into romantic feelings for the character. These men treat the character like a girlfriend, going out together, spending time together, having sex, and so forth.

“Pure love is completely gone in the real world,” Honda wrote. “As long as you train your imagination, a 2-D relationship is much more passionate than a 3-D one.” This statement embodies what is wrong with this movement. These men—it appears to be nearly exclusively if not totally exclusively men—have given up on the real world. I understand this impulse.

In high school, I had a rough junior year. Due to family issues, I also threw my hands up and said “Fuck this.” (I was an angsty and angry junior.) I escaped into video games.

I eventually realized what all I missed out on. Sure, playing games was tons of fun, and I didn’t have to deal with any of the problems going on in my life. By not dealing with them, I didn’t fix any of them. I just put them off.

These men, by choosing to give up on real love with a real person, are avoiding the problem. There fantasy land of love with a 2D character is very comforting and safe. They can be perfectly happy loving a 2D character; indeed, they can be happier than trying to find love with a 3D person.

However, they are denying themselves a chance for greater happiness. The 2D character is limited in so many ways compared to a real person. It won’t ever surprise them. It won’t ever have an original thought or an interesting story to tell. It also won’t ever betray them. It won’t ever cheat on them or make a mistake.

Some of them realize that they are limiting themselves. I wish more of them did. I frankly find this escapist culture downright creepy.

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