Charlie's Blog: On Hobbies


On Hobbies

What is a hobby anyway? Where is the line of demarcation between hobbies and ordinary normal pursuits? I have been unable to answer this question to my own satisfaction.

I do not have any hobbies. I do not want to have hobbies. Some people will claim that I have hobbies, but I do not. This is because I have a definition for a hobby. A hobby is the serious pursuit of a worthless activity.

No one considers their job to be a hobby. This is because jobs pay money. Getting paid makes any activity worthwhile and serious. But is mowing your lawn a hobby? Is doing the laundry a hobby? The answer is no. These are worthwhile activities even if you don't get paid to do them. We call these chores instead of hobbies.

Is watching television a hobby? Is listening to the radio a hobby? Is reading a hobby? That depends upon the seriousness of the activity. For most people, these are generally worthless activities that no one seriously pursues. These are not hobbies. This is entertainment.

Is knitting a hobby? Is sewing a hobby? Is woodworking a hobby? These things require serious pursuit, but they are worthwhile activities because they produce useful and valuable things. These would be crafts not hobbies.

Is playing the piano a hobby? Is painting a picture a hobby? Is writing a hobby? That depends upon if the musician or painter or writer is any good. These are known as arts which are akin to crafts. If you are no good at these things, you should give them up or pursue them without serious commitment. This is how you end up playing the kazoo.

Now, I like to play the kazoo for 10 minutes each day or until my wife gets annoyed. Is kazoo playing a hobby? Without a doubt, kazoo playing is a worthless activity, but I pursue it with no seriousness. The same also applies to my bird watching. I have a cheap monocular, but I can't identify half the birds I see. I don't even try. I do not own a field guide, and I do not keep a logbook. I don't make special trips to watch birds. Most of the birds I watch are in my backyard or the grocery store parking lot. If I took bird watching seriously by buying a better looking glass or started keeping notes in a log, then my worthless activity would become a hobby.

I pursue worthwhile activities with seriousness, and I pursue worthless activities without seriousness. I do not seriously pursue worthless activities. I do not have hobbies.

What are examples of hobbies? I think golf is a hobby for the vast majority of people who play that worthless game. For those with talent and skill and ability to earn cash prizes on the PGA tour, golf is a sport. For everyone else, it is a worthless game they will never become good at playing despite the thousands of dollars they shell out for equipment and country club fees. This makes golf a hobby.

I think ham radio is a hobby. Ham operators spend considerable time and money studying the subject and purchasing expensive equipment in order to make contacts for contests. If you ask them what the value is in these activities, they will make some generic claim to "emergency communications." In some rare instances, this claim is true. But for most hams, it is a hobby that eats up time and money.

I like to use CB radios, but this sector of the radio world doesn't take itself seriously. Yet, CB radios have been the number one form of radio communication for truck drivers and others who appreciate the utility of CB radio. People actually use CBs for emergency communications. This would be the not serious pursuit of a worthwhile activity. This is not a hobby.

I like gardening. This is serious, and it will be a worthwhile activity if things grow. If they don't grow, then I have found myself a hobby which I need to end. I like walking, but this is always a worthwhile activity done for the sake of health. This is exercise which is not a hobby. Then, there is writing on this blog. I find value in what I write, and people tell me they find value in it, too. This makes it worthwhile and not a hobby.

Collecting things are always hobbies. It could be comic books, coins, stamps, movie posters, baseball cards, vinyl records, and other things. Most hobbies tend to be collecting. Shortwave listeners don't listen to shortwave radio. They collect shortwave radios. Golfers are collecting expensive golf clubs. Most of the guitar players you see on YouTube are just guitar collectors. Ultimately, a collection is just clutter. This is why I am not a collector of anything except belly button lint.

Hobbies are a waste of life. This is why I don't care to have them. I do serious things, and I do fun things. The fun things are pleasant breaks from the serious things. Hobby is a term of derision derived from the hobby horse which is a child's toy. The child rides the toy with great effort, but he doesn't get anywhere. This is why calling something a hobby is an insult, and the term is accurate and fitting.

Hobbies are the serious pursuits of worthless activities. People may do them because of ambition or compulsion. Rare is the hobbyist who can justify his hobby. And they rarely have fun with these hobbies. Once the novelty wears off, most hobbies become clutter for the garage, the basement, or the attic. Yard sales and estate sales are replete with the detritus from these hobby graveyards. I just see it all as one big waste of life.

The cure for eliminating hobbies is twofold and simple. Pursue worthwhile activities with seriousness. Pursue worthless activities without seriousness. That's it. You will have stopped wasting time, resources, and life on hobbies. You will become a better person for doing this.