Escapism has a wide range of subtly different definitions and usages but they all refer to a desire to avoid some unpleasant element of experience by superimposing something else over it. At near end of the spectrum one plays phone games during a bus ride and a the far end one wants to be high all the time. Most of the time though it refers to entertainment with little to no value as any thing else. Pop music, romance novels, video games, action movies, and any fiction that wouldn't be called art by critics. Is your life boring? Try reality television, where you can experience all of the pathos and drama of interpersonal conflict and being an utter ass with none of the associated stress or loss of respect. Side effects may include: obsession, unrealistic expectations, being a bore at the water cooler, and an ever worsening personality.
While escapism has existed as long as daydreaming, its deliberate manufacture arguably began in the 1830s with the penny dreadfuls and lost what little literary merit had in the movies of the 1930s. Throughout this time and into the future moral guardians glowered at this popcorn of the mind. If it wasn't taking youths down a dark path of crime and corruption it was at least drawing them away from real life and real problems. The preacher wants peoples' minds on their souls, the reformer wants peoples' minds on their society, and the professor wants' peoples minds on the facts. While they rarely come out as strictly anti-fiction the sentiment is there. But do they have a point? Few of us would defend a life spent watching television as well spent, even for the person who is independently wealthy and has no extrinsic need to work or engage with the rest of the world. Why? Because it's unhealthy, unbalanced, and just plain sad. So, what's an appropriate number of hours spent in front of a screen? How did you arrive at that number? Does it change dependent on a person's income, personality, or the state of the world (actual or imagined)? Is it more acceptable for a person trapped in bad circumstances?
Escapism has a negative connotation. If your life is something you want to escape from maybe you should be focused on changing it. Always easier said than done but that doesn't mean it's wrong. Of course it's not always obvious how to change ones life for the better. And in the age of the smart phones with funny cat videos only seconds away ... well ...
IRON NODER: WE'LL RUST WHEN WE'RE DEAD