How “Passive Entertainment” is only a recent concept, historically speaking

There are many ways to entertain ourselves in our free time: reading books, playing sports, baking or watching a film. Until very recently, I had never paid much attention to the idea that each of these activities, the ones that prevent us from getting bored, are not simply just ways to fill our time. The types of activities actually fit into one of two categories: active or passive entertainment.

Now, this is a recent concept and there is actually very little information on the subject. However, as we all have a lot of free time on hour hands at the moment due to coronavirus lockdown, I thought it’d be worthwhile summarising the difference between the two activities.

Active entertainment

Firstly, active entertainment means we are being (as the name suggests) actively entertained.

When we are actively entertained, we are reacting and responding to all sorts of different situations in the environment around us. These kinds of activities require us to be more than just an audience. When actively entertained, we are fully involved and immersed in the activity.

Think about playing a musical instrument, playing an online video game with friends (or even complete strangers) or playing a sport. Each one of these leisure time activities requires us to interact with the situation around us. We are stimulated to react to each situation, and change the outcome of these situations.

Passive entertainment

On the other hand, passive entertainment is the opposite to active entertainment. It means you put yourself on autopilot. You are a spectator in the situation.

When thinking of passive activities, think of the one’s we do to re-charge our batteries. For example, watching Netflix, scrolling through instagram or watching sport on the television. During these activities, we are a passive audience. We do not seek to change the situation in any way – we just stare at a screen or pages with words on and relax.

What does this mean for how we should spend our time?

There isn’t actually a huge amount of information on what this all really means. However, it is obvious that being actively entertained is probably a more effective way to spend our time as it requires us to perform, and therefore stimulates us.

So, instead of watching sport on the television, go and play a sport in real life (although, given the current situation, make sure it’s a socially distanced sport). Instead of reading a book, why not write one? Draw something, paint something, learn a new musical instrument, cook new things, go cycling, swimming or learn a new language. Do anything that stimulates you and encourages you to be productive in your free time.

However, in saying all this, it is also important to relax and recharge our batteries. By all means, spend some time relaxing and being withdrawn from situations. Watch rubbish television, read silly books – but do find some things that actively engage you to avoid living a sedentary lifestyle, as well all know this can have many health risks.

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