I don’t think we spend enough time talking about entertainment burnout. Do you know what I see daily in online fantasy fiction groups and forums?
I see people complaining that they have fallen into a reading rut. They can’t find the strength to crack a book open because everything they read is disturbingly dull. They usually end their submission by asking for recommendations, specifically novels with unique concepts that can ignite their passion for the written word.
That mindset is not unique to books. The other day, I watched a Whatculture Wrestling YouTube video where a panelist said he was bored with wrestling. The man gets paid to consume that particular medium, yet, he felt like professional wrestling peaked years ago when AEW debuted.
Today, nothing can generate that buzz in his belly he once felt while watching his favourite athletes pretend to fight. He implored AEW and WWE to re-invent the sport. To change things in a way that injects new life into the industry. I would have thrown the same criticism at anime a few years ago.
I had watched too much anime over the years. So naturally, nothing could surprise me. I could see all the twists and turns coming. Every protagonist felt like a poor imitation of a thousand other characters in a thousand other shows. I yearned for anime with original concepts to rejuvenate my interest in the medium.
But I have realized in the last few months that you don’t solve burnout by exposing yourself to the same thing that caused the burnout.
You solve burnout by taking a break. That idea is foreign to most of us. We think being a fan of an entertainment medium means continuously indulging in that medium even when it becomes a chore.
That common adage (absence makes the heart grow fonder) is accurate. If your favourite thing no longer inspires you, step away. If you read three books a month, cut back to one. You could also switch genres. Better yet, stop reading altogether.
Give books a year-long break and pursue other hobbies. You can apply this solution to video games, movies, anime, manga, TV shows, comics, basically anything. Give your brain a chance to re-calibrate. Your appreciation for the mediums you love will be that much richer when you rediscover them down the line.
Now, I offer that advice, knowing that most of you won’t listen. Why? Because you have a fear of missing out. You hate the idea of sitting on the sidelines and watching silently while your friends buzz about the latest Jujutsu Kaisen episode.
You want to join the screaming matches whenever a controversial author puts out a new book. You don’t want to remain mute in the WhatsApp groups you frequent while others share memes and videos with nerdy references you barely understand.
You want to participate in the fun, and that’s fine. Ultimately, many people indulge in nerd culture because of the sense of community it offers. But I don’t think taking a break from a fandom prevents you from enjoying that sense of community.
You can still hang out in the forums and chatrooms. However, rather than actively adding to the discussions, you can sit back and listen. Feed on other people’s joy. For all you know, their excitement may re-ignite your passion.
And even if it doesn’t, there is little point in forcing yourself to consume entertainment you no longer enjoy. Better to step back for a time until you can reclaim your spark. Your mental well-being will thank you.