“His bizarre fascination with Phil and Naydine mystified David. There really was no reason for his intense curiosity, nor any justification for such an unhealthy interest in other people’s business. He enjoyed it. Why? Was it the same vicarious thrill women derived from reading New Idea or watching Desperate Housewives? Was it that his own life, had settled into the rut of domestic routine, and he needed something else? Some spark. Some passion.”
- Loathe Your Neighbor ch. 6
What makes us so interested in other people’s business? Why do women’s magazines and celebrity gossip magazines sell in the quintillions? Books, movies, television shows, especially reality TV programs are hugely popular all over the world. Why? Other places, other worlds, other people’s lives are irresistibly attractive? Why? The majority of us are prisoners of the mundane: spending huge amounts of our time on activities we would not necessarily choose if we had a choice. Let’s face it, choice itself is a luxury precious few can afford. We sample the insipid staples of regular life while dreaming of wild adventures. We eat beans as we dream of baked dinners. We cannot escape our lives, nor run from ourselves. Many of our problems cannot be solved, and those that can, often require pain and sacrifice. The slick salesman in Total Recall asked Arnie’s character what was the one thing that was the same about every holiday he had ever taken. He didn’t know the answer. Do you? Owing to the limitations of our mortal bodies we have but one life here on Earth, and we choose to spend much of it entertaining ourselves by living through the experiences and imaginations of others. This is vicarious living. I don’t actually want to do that, or go there, or suffer that so I will read about it or watch it. I don’t have a problem with such escapism. Do you?