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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

The prevalence of digital entertainment options

In today’s times, people find the prospect of staying indoors a lot more attractive than engaging in outdoor activities or interactions which require physical activity. Evidence of this can be found in the increasing number of social media accounts being created every day, and in the declining rates of participation in offline activities. Although the general consensus is that this is purely a problem restricted to the youth or the ‘millennials’, research into the topic has revealed that the preference of online sources of entertainment over offline ones is a pervasive one, affecting all generations.

One obvious reason for this is the sheer multitude of options that the Internet has opened up to the general population – nowadays we can even find an event management group online. Almost every aspect of daily life can now be done through digital sources, without ever needing to step out of the comfort of the house. For example, the simple act of going to the movies. What used to be a very exciting event that many people considered a special outing has now reached every man’s fingertips with streaming services such as Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime. With such services allowing people to watch their favourite movies without having to go through the process of waiting in line, buying a ticket, getting popcorn and hoping there are no noisy kids about, the tradition of cinema seems to be under attack.

Not just cinema, but even activities like grocery shopping, furniture shopping and eating out has been overtaken by digital options with most people preferring to opt for online ordering services. When weekend staples such as these become available to people on demand at the touch of a screen, it becomes clear that the isolation that is experienced is quite self-imposed. The world of digital entertainment has permeated even the sphere of games, which has since ages been considered an outdoor activity. Sports ranging from cricket to football to even snakes and ladders, everything can be played as an online sport, in stark contrast to what it was originally meant for. Exclusive entertainment options such as gambling, which could once only be performed at special casinos at specific times has now found an online portal – people from all over the world can now visit an online casino site and gamble as they would in person, making it a lot more widespread and accessible than it conventionally would be.

What is perhaps the most astonishing is the infiltration of digital sources into the world of romance. Formerly a deeply personal and intimate experience involving mustering up the courage to ask the attractive guy or girl you have been eyeing for some time at the bar or pub out for a date and hoping for ‘yes’ as an answer has now turned into a mere swipe of a finger indicating interest. Such is the allure of online dating that even Facebook, the social media site that revolutionised how people make friends, has revealed its intentions of dipping its feet into the market of online romantic relationships.   

Not only are offline entertainment sources rapidly losing ground, leading to fewer person to person interactions but also the dependency on such digital options is being associated with a rising number of health risks. Spending more time indoors than outdoors has been associated with disorders like insomnia, anxiety, depression, fatigue and loss of vitality. The most important factor at play here is the role of exposure to sunlight. Recent research has revealed that spending more time under artificial lighting and in the confines of a room can disrupt the body’s internal clock, leading to a variety of health issues involving appetite loss, impaired mood, low energy levels and more.

Staying in seems to have become the new going out, with a rising number of people preferring social interactions within the confines of their home – by inviting friends over for a match screening, having house parties, or the more popular option among the youngsters for ‘Netflix and Chill’. But does this mean that it is a signal for the end of all offline options? Although it is undeniable that online sources of entertainment have brought significant ease and convenience into our lives, the experience of disconnecting and doing something in person is an experience that cannot be simulated, no matter how true to life the online option may be.

Besides, the rewards of engaging in an activity in person can easily outweigh the risks. A person may find himself becoming a part of a spectacular adventure, making amazing friendships, finding their soul mate or even making a memory to cherish forever – the possibilities are endless. Therefore, even in the face of unending digital options to entertain ourselves, people might find themselves enjoying a lot more if they took the time to venture out of their comfort zones, even if just for a while.

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