The Death of the Hobby

What’s your hobby? Okay, now be honest with me. What’s your hobby? You don’t really have one, do you? Well, that’s okay, because I’m convinced nobody really does anymore.

Now, hear me out. I read something a couple of weeks ago—I honestly wish I could remember what it was or where I read it so I could tag it for you guys—about the hobby industry. There’s no concrete information as to whether or not this just applies in America or worldwide, but I definitely see it in my own backyard. The main point of this article rested on this idea that hobbies don’t really exist anymore, especially among young people, due to the monetization of every day/”for fun” tasks.

At first I thought, “well, that’s just ridiculous! I have hobbies.” Buttt, do I??? If someone were to ask me what my hobby was, I would say hanging out with my friends. But who doesn’t like spending time with their friends? I might say writing, but it’s pretty clear I do that as more than just a hobby. I used to paint and craft and read and play music, but I don’t do much of that anymore either. And, shamefully, I find myself thinking of ways I could sell my, admittedly subpar, artwork or get media attention for my, also subpar, musical abilities.

So for arguments sake, let’s say that it’s true—hobbies, are in fact, dying off. Why? What exactly does monetization mean, and what does it have to do with all of this? Monetization can be broadly defined as

the process of earning revenue from a business or asset.

Under this definition, you could count, say, YouTubers or Instagram Influencers as people who are maximizing monetization through their content creation. And it does seem odd to think of posting videos online as a job, especially to older generations or those who have traditional views of working and its separation from activities considered “just for fun.”

This article published on itsnerd.com does a good job of summarizing this idea of “hustling” as the root cause of the death of the hobby. This Millennial/Gen Z/and everything in-between generation has definitely capitalized on this idea of “hustle culture.” We talk about ways to turn our hobbies into profit—documenting our exotic vacations for travel agencies, gaining sponsorships from athletic wear companies for our daily work out routines, creating and mastering internet challenges. We have this idea that it is possible to turn our passions into money, so why not? I mean, who wants to be stuck in a dead-end desk job if that’s not what makes them happy?

“Hustle culture” also emphasizes the 24/7 work life this young generation embodies. We constantly have to be producing profit. Because if we’re not, then we lose productivity. And in an age where we have so many things—digitally and otherwise—vying for our attention, we need to be taking advantage of every opportunity to turn time into money. This is also where side hustles come into play. One job just isn’t enough anymore.

Itsnerd also touches on the digitalization of our generation. The addiction to apps and streaming services occupies so much of the little free time we allow ourselves that it’s easy to choose a Netflix binge over learning how to knit. And as much as I hate to admit it, it’s kind of true. Even during this global health crisis that is the pandemic, COVID-19, I find my increased free time going to my social media or even to increased work on my “side hustles”—like this blog. We circle back to attention. Attention is money. Time is money. And money is life.

Is all of this necessarily our fault? Have we not been taught by older generations to work hard for our dreams and to be mindful of the fragile economy that we inherited? And what about my student debt? My entry-level administrative job is not helping me lower that interest, so what’s the harm in helping myself with a little side hustle? Do I even want student debt? What, when I can turn my makeup routine into fame and fortune? It’s a complicated structure—much too complicated for me to even make a dent into in just this one blog post. But you can see, it isn’t just the question of whether or not Millennials killed the hobby industry. Because it goes so much deeper than that.

And let’s say that I indulge in a daily TikTok dance. Could I call that my hobby? What defines a hobby? Merriam Webster’s defines hobby as

a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.

So if I dance or vlog for relaxation, then it’s a hobby. Right? What if once I’m doing teaching children, updating my blog, posting on socials for sponsorships, I cuddle up on my sofa and watch a couple hours of Netflix. Is that a hobby? “Of course not, Samantha. Watching TV is not a hobby!” And it’s never been considered a hobby before. So what would allow it to be considered a hobby now? If we don’t consider it—and similar streaming activities—a hobby, is the hobby industry dead?

Personally, if it fits the definition, I think it should count. Perhaps we have this misconstrued idea that a hobby has to be productive—like painting or cooking—like it has to produce a product or increase a skill. But technically, that’s not what hobbies were created for. They were created for relaxation, to take us out of the hustle and bustle that is our work lives. And if I choose to do that through a couple YouTube videos right before bed, is that so bad?

* * *

Do you have a hobby? Are hobbies dead? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

Just in case you haven’t heard… THE EDITED AND AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS OF MY BOOK ARE OUT! SPACES was released under such a whirlwind time in my life that there were many things in the book—grammatical errors, wording issues—that managed to fly under my radar. You’re not going to miss much substance if you’ve already bought the first edition and don’t want to buy this one. But if you haven’t bought the book yet, this new release is the perfect time to grab a copy—available on Amazon as a Kindle eBook or a paperback. I’ve also turned SPACES into an audiobook. Spoken word poetry played a big inspiration in this collection, and like many spoken word poems, experiencing them out loud enlightens the experience. So make sure to check out the audiobook—available on Audible!

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