People - 18.10.2017 - 00:00 

Escape into social media, forget everyday life

Escapism – Using media to escape from the real world into a pseudo-world – this is the phenomenon Severina Müller investigated in her doctoral thesis.

18 October 2017. What motives are there for using media? In media psychology, an important motive is the phenomenon of escapism. This means using media to temporarily escape from reality into a pseudo-world. "The focus of my doctoral thesis was the issue of how people use social media – especially Facebook – for their escapism," stated Severina Müller. In doing so, she fulfilled her wish to gain additional academic qualifications by earning a doctorate degree after her sociology degree.

Better than its reputation

Escapism is rather negatively viewed in society. According to Severina Müller, a central finding of her doctoral thesis is that escapism is better than its reputation suggests. "Escapism can be a very positive coping strategy for individuals." Taking a time-out from reality may contribute to recovery and increase the feeling of well-being. "When stress levels are high, it can be useful to escape temporarily into media worlds in order to recover and then deal with everyday life with renewed energy."

Challenge and opportunity

By escaping from everyday life, people are escaping their problems and challenges. "I hope that my doctoral thesis is understood as a whole: that the challenges are borne in mind, whilst also recognising the opportunities," said Severina Müller, because social media cannot be condemned across the board. In her doctoral thesis, Müller showed an additional positive effect of escapism: Due to their use of social media, escapists are much better informed on daily and world events and are politically engaged.

Science in public administration

Severina Müller now works in public administration and remains faithful to her scientific way of working. She puts her scientific knowledge of media and communications to good use at Presence Switzerland at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). There, she analyses how Switzerland is perceived in foreign media and social media. "I like the fact that scientific insights can be incorporated into policy and thus contribute to well-founded insights."

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