Friday 27 May 2011

Transition and Entertainment

Here are a few things I enjoy doing:
-Playing boardgames
- Reading about philosophy or economics
- Computer programming
- Salsa and swing dancing
- Architectural Design
- Designing websites
- Writing and playing music

Although it may not immediately be apparent, there’s one thing that all of these have in common, and that is logical thought. I can get totally engrossed in thought and be so engaged in it that little else matters for that time. I can often be starving hungry, and only notice when my lack of food has started to affect my thought patterns or I’m falling asleep. I often can’t sleep if I’m thinking too much about an idea or concept in my mind, and can only fall into slumber once a logical conclusion has been reached. Perhaps this makes me a geek, but nevermind, I love it!

So why is this relevant to transition? It’s in our attitude towards entertainment. There are several ways of looking at entertainment, only one of which the corporate world has been transfixed with for a long time – that with a producer and a consumer. The producer, often based in Hollywood, or some other such remote place to most of the world, will generate ideas for stories, comedy shows, films, characters and brands. They then film them, produce merchandise for them, create spin-offs. And then they sell their ideas, via intermediaries (cinemas, TV stations, chain stores), to “the consumer”, that magical entity that always has money to burn and is oh so willing to burn it.

There are a great many alternatives to this model, as I’m sure you’re all aware and already partake in, and I’m willing to bet that many of those alternatives do not include you just as a passive “consumer”, but involve creativity, involvement, engagement and, to some extent, commitment. How many of you enjoy the relationships you have with your significant others, your children, parents and friends, all of which have taken commitment and engagement? How many of you have enjoyed gardening, music-making, art or computer programming because of the creativity that is involved?

Part of the reason I joined Transition is because of the opportunities it gives me to think, to engage and create. I enjoy tackling the issues that have been set before us in society because of the excitement of doing something that hasn’t been done before – of creating a world that isn’t just a struggling tired behemoth of times gone past, but is new and beautiful. There’s an enjoyment that I get out of being inspired by the ideas that I hear at transition meetings and, hopefully, others being inspired by mine! I also enjoy the sense of engagement that you feel – that you’re part of a movement, along with thousands of other people, all with that same vision of a rich, resilient post-oil culture.

But I was talking about entertainment – what, then, does a resilient entertainment industry look like? It certainly can’t work on the model of shipping our hard-earned cash overseas to international “entertainment producers” with nothing significant in return. No, what we need is local entertainment, produced by local people, for local people, and where the producers are the consumers at the same time. Singing with a choir is one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had (indeed, have!). It is free and often entertains other people at the same time. But there are so many other examples – writing, dancing, learning. We have the power to entertain ourselves all the time, but the value of these wonderful forms of entertainment have been artificially diminished by corporate advertising who claim that the only things of value are those which you pay for.

So I appeal to you – turn off the TV. Don't pay to be advertised at. Create, rather than consume. Engage, get involved and commit your effort to things which will pay you back in happiness many times over. I’m glad I live and always have lived in a TV-less household. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy TV. In fact, TV can be marvellously entertaining, in that completely passive way that one needs from time to time, but I’m glad that I have my other forms of entertainment, because without that sense of creativity, involvement, engagement and responsibility that comes with commitment, I don’t think I could ever be truly happy.

P.S. There’s a TEDTalk video on this subject which I highly recommend! Simeon Jackson

Images: playing chess at The Treehouse Festival 2010 (photo by Adam Jackson); me swing-dancing at Itchy Feet, Leeds; a crocheted strawberry lace, just for fun, again at The Treehouse Festival.


  1. Totally agree, Simeon - I hope we will see you again at the Keir Hardy Ceilidhs when they start again on Sept 21st - bands will be at
    once they are booked!

  2. Doing and Sharing is True Life. The rest is mind, mind, mind.... clouds in the air