When we think of entertainment, many things spring to mind: watching television, going to the cinema, playing on a PS3… Even shopping is now a leisure activity. For the most part, modern-day entertainment involves passivity in front of a screen (unless you’re blowing up aliens from the latest video game), and some kind of expenditure. It is how our society has evolved – we want entertainment and we want it now, preferably with a few special effects.
Whilst I can understand the attraction of slumping in front of the TV and not having to really engage your brain for a couple of hours (X-factor fan, guilty), I do believe that there is a huge amount of pleasure to be gained from slightly more traditional forms of entertainment. Board games still hold enormous appeal, especially when you get a bit older and conventional rules get exchanged in favour of drinking rules. Card games can keep people riveted for a whole afternoon, as I have discovered each summer when a large group of my friends stays at my house and most of the weekend is spent playing Racing Demon.
What I feel is far more important is that these activities are far more sociable than being glued to a screen for hours on end. Admittedly, board games can get a bit competitive and heated, and I’ve certainly flung a few chess boards across the room in my time. But overall, this is entertainment that can be endlessly shared.
And then there are the more creative forms of entertainment: painting, music, Lego… True, these all cost something to begin with, but when you compare it to the price of an Xbox or DVD collection, it’s really not that much. I recently spent a very happy afternoon with a pack of plasticine that only cost £1.05. Yes I’m 23 years old, but I think we’re all allowed a bit of childish pleasure once in a while.
Having been raised in a household where one read books to pass the time, rather than sit and squint at a Gameboy, perhaps I’m a little biased towards the non-screen entertainment sector. I’ll also admit that I log a hell of a lot of screen time each week: writing this blog, looking at Facebook, checking e-mails, watching TV series online… it all adds up. But I am still a strong advocate of the simpler things in life, like going on a walk, reading a book, or even just sitting and talking with your friends or family. After all, these will create the more memorable moments in our lives. No one’s going to look back and reminisce about that afternoon they spent going through someone’s profile pictures are they?