Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What's a hobby?

Recently, a story came out about some woman who decided that her goal for 2012 was to take up 52 new hobbies.  Frankly, when I first heard this, my immediate thought was that her true goal was to get some publicity for herself, and to get fodder for a book.  And indeed, she's getting air time on the morning news shows, and lots of interviews, and it turns out that she plans to write a book.  Surprise, surprise.

Obviously, I'm not impressed.  Actually, I'm less than impressed, I'm dubious.  At least she's not suggesting that she mastered each of these hobbies..  but I'm still having trouble believing that she even gave them a fair chance.

I checked out Wikipedia, and found hobby defined as "a regular activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure,  typically done during one's leisure time", and also "hobbies are practiced ...for interest and enjoyment, rather than financial reward".   Right there, this woman has a couple problems.  First, these activities she took part in, weren't done regularly.  Next, she didn't undertake them for pleasure, she undertook them for the challenge -- and not even the challenge of the activity, she did it for the challenge of being able to do at least 52 things in 52 weeks.  That leaves the issue of leisure time.  Libby Segal - currently the associate producer of a reality show - plans to use her adventures, not only as fodder for a book, but also as the basis for a new reality show.  So not only was this not really a leisure activity, but  financial reward was clearly part of her motivation.

So now everything fits into place.

Don't get me wrong, I like hobbies...  I have hobbies.  My current hobbies include ballroom dancing, camping, canoeing, fishing (freshwater and saltwater), flytying, sewing and writing.  Let's see, that's 8.  Although, in all fairness, it's probably been over 6 months since I last tied a fly, we only go camping a few times a year and the canoeing and freshwater fishing both happen at the same time as camping, and other then mending, I only pull out the sewing machine a couple of times a year.  I used to golf, but don't have time for that anymore, just as I no longer have time to play the cello, play chess, or bowl.  As it happens, I'd like to take up fencing, and I'd like to breed angelfish, and I'd like to travel -- although I'm not sure if traveling counts as a hobby or not.

And I suppose I'm arguing semantics here.  After all, if - rather than announcing she had taken up these hobbies - she had declared that she was going to explore hobbies to see which ones she might be interested in following up on, I don't think I'd have a problem.. frankly, I might not even have noticed. But especially for hobbyists who have devoted significant periods of time to master their hobbies... hobbies like tap dancing, and hang gliding, and chess, and rock climbing, and ventriloquism... I am offended on their behalf, that this woman spends an hour or two, and concludes that's sufficient to qualify as 'taking up a hobby'.

Hmmm.. just re-read this post...  and I can see that I'm being a bit of a curmudgeon.  Really --- what do I care about Ms. Segal's motivations for giving surfing, or pole dancing a try?  And it's not as if I watch reality shows anyway.

You know what?  Do what you want.  If you enjoy it.. do it some more.
Right now, I'm going to make a cup of tea.  It's something that I do regularly, for pleasure, in my leisure time....  It's a hobby.


  1. I wonder, have been wondering the whole post... do the flies protest when you tie them? And don't you think it rather cruel to tie flies? Of course, I guess tying them is less cruel than a fly swat or poison or one of those glue thingys.

    Seriously, (I only presume you're serious) giving her free publicity... that's rather generous of you.

    I think you need a post on the art of tying flies... just in case someone wants to start a hobby.

  2. As I read your post, I was just agreeing with you through each paragraph. She must not have children, or a job outside the home to be able to take up 52 new 'hobbies'. Hard to imagine mastering something in just a week....research, learning curve, money for supplies. Yes - she is in it for the money and 'fame'. Blah.

  3. Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you write a blog with only eight subscribers and spend several paragraphs trashing this young, ambitious woman. You are all bitch and no ambition, and quite frankly not only does your rancid rancor and ice cream eating whining turn me off via blog, but in my opinion you are everything that is wrong with the female gender. Don't trash someone because they are destined to do good things. Celebrate them and perhaps learn. Oops. That would involve not being JEALOUS.

  4. LOLOL, obviously this is someone who had no clue as to who you are, Laurie. You wouldn't have time for 52 hobbies!

    As for "destined for great things"... I seriously doubt it. In a year no one will remember what it was about. No one can get good at something they do on occasion. That's called a dilettante - someone with a superficial interest in an art or branch of knowledge. The key word being "superficial". No depth and no knowledge... just an interest. Dilettantes have been around for centuries.

    Jealous? Really huge joke there.

    It isn't in how many subscribers you have on your site but in the quality of those you do have people. Based on a certain blog, we now know that the number of faces on your page doesn't equal the quality of your blog.

  5. Well, Laurie, I agree with your assessment. Since she's a producer, the whole project sounds like an investigation into the feasibility of that reality show.

    You have a wonderful mix of hobbies! If you count tea, I'm gonna count coffee.

  6. As far as I can see (in regards to Cynthia's comment) you are all discussing someone you don't know personally. Does it really matter if it is a 'hobby' or an 'activity' when the reality is that in the time it took for you all to bash this young woman she has probably tried another new hobby (activity, sport, craft, etc....) It would be nice to see people looking at the brighter side of things rather than making these presumptions about someone you don't in the slightest way know. Your main point in this blog was to google the definition of hobby and complain about it's possible misuse. She is out to try new things and inspire people to do the same; what have any of you done to inspire anyone lately

  7. Why is this blogger so angry because someone else is doing something?! Of course, she is writing on behalf of tap dancers and ventriloquists everywhere, so perhaps she does have connections beyond her 8 or 9 followers. But I'm not certain about HER hobbies. Mending clothing and drinking tea? Really?