Is consumption really a hobby?


#1

This is such a small topic, but I find myself in discussions about this in real life more than I want to, and I would be interested to hear your opinion. I know we’re a pretty homogenous folk in terms of opinion but honestly, don’t hold back, don’t make your opinion NoSurf friendly or anything, honestly say what you feel. I wanna discuss about this. Prove me wrong.

I don’t think any of the popular hobby-less hobbies are hobbies at all.
Whenever you ask a person’s hobbies, especially when there’s some kind of introduction round or you’re becoming friends with someone, inevitably you’re gonna find out.

And most people are just like… “watching movies, listening to music, playing games”! At this point it’s so bad that we’re barely hearing “meeting my friends” anymore, and that’s arguably not even a hobby either, but at least there’s a hint of friendship there that isn’t about liking virtual posts online as an act of friendship.

I don’t think just sitting there consuming content is a hobby. I used to think they are, because I didn’t have anything else in my freetime, but now I think differently and I find it sends such a wrong message when everyone keeps listing that as their hobbies wherever I go (not here, irl).

I know, they’re things done in your freetime, but I feel like for a hobby it has to be active or you gotta create something. Stuff like badminton, or embroidery. Not just consumption.
This might be arbitrary, but we all consume, and I feel like a hobby is when we go out of our way to do it. I made a mistake in the past to call cooking a hobby, but it’s so normal like TV watching and needed for our every day life, it’s like calling brushing your teeth or riding the train a hobby. Just because you’re doing it every day doesn’t mean it’s a hobby!

I also feel like a hobby is done with something in mind, while a lot or most of our hobby-Netflixers are doing it mindlessly, or on the side, or compulsively. I feel like it is something you take your time for and do for a set time before you return to your duties, not something you do because you always do it, you’re bored, there’s nothing else to do, etc.

It’s kind of weird how I only know a handful of people with hobbies in a traditional sense (or my opinion), and lots of people who go home to have content thrown at them and do nothing else.

I know that there are hobbies that are in a grey area by definition of this, which would be stuff like reading, which is why I’m so interested in hearing your side. Maybe I’m just a hobby purist ;D


#2

What a great question! I really had to think about it for a while, and I feel the issue comes from people treating pastimes and hobbies synonymously, when I think there is a slight difference in the two, but also a lot of grey area :confused: but I firmly believe that solely passive consumption can’t be a hobby.

Things like netflix, watching tv, movies, and other passive activities should be classified as pastimes. They don’t take any effort, and are just there to be enjoyed and help you relax; whereas hobbies, like you said, are ‘active’ activities which involving creating something, but then there is the whole big grey area of whether what is created is physical and whether learning new things could be counted as a hobby( i.e. would someone reading and researching a particular part of history they are enamoured not be included as a hobby because they created nothing, even though what they are doing is not really passive but is quite active in searching out information, synthesising it, etc and building their own knowledge? or would you consider this an interest?)

I have to really disagree about cooking not being able to be a hobby since some people really enjoy learning to cook new food, or improve what they make, and actively research and practice their cooking skills because they love cooking and want to improve. Regular cooking, or just trying to spice up your week night dinners isn’t really a hobby, but its still good to do.

Exercise is also weird, because you are engaging actively with what you’re doing and trying to improve, but you aren’t really creating anything (except maybe muscle?), but I feel it deserves its own category.

You really can’t define what is and isn’t a hobby/pastime/interest, because there is so much grey area, and every person’s individual engagement with something will vary on a spectrum for very active to very passive. There are exceptions such as netflix/tv, which you really can’t make a case for, or where so much of the consumers aren’t treating it like an actual hobby that you can discount it for argument sake, but most other things will be something different for different people.

I guess you can’t say what a hobby is, but you know it when you see it. Specifying between exercise, hobbies, and pastimes I think would really clear stuff up, but people are lazy and like to use the umbrella term of hobby for everything because it’s easier.


#3

Consumption of something can be a hobby. Perhaps you are ranking them in terms of their value. If consumption leads to some type of production or creativity, then maybe you could call it a more useful and productive hobby. Watching a documentary to enhance your understanding of something (and then applying it) is productive. Reading a fiction novel can be as well. Reading fiction usually stimulates me creatively by getting me to write. But reading, like watching TV, is a consumptive activity. Some people act as if reading is a higher form of activity because it is mentally engaging, but it is a form of consuming (so is learning), especially if it doesn’t lead to application or production. That’s why some people tend to look down their noses at fiction (especially specific kinds). On the flip-side, mindless activity can be useful if used productively. If you generally read heavy material that requires a lot of mental energy, you might try a romance novel to give your mind a break. You might watch something that requires passivity because it’s the opposite of what you were doing before. I do this quite a lot given the nature of my career and life. If you do a lot of activity, be it mental or physical, to decompress or enjoy your free time, you might choose an opposite type of activity. For example, person who sits at their desk for 8 hours might consider exercise their hobby.

Some people find it mind-boggling that I consider tutoring a hobby. I gain income from it, but I do it because I enjoy it, and I find it relaxing. However, some people don’t think of it as a hobby but as work. Same with language learning. Some people don’t think studying is a hobby either. However, how we spend our leisure time and what we enjoy is very subjective. What’s important is looking at the total picture and not the activity in isolation. I agree that many people go to work for 8 hours and sit on their butt all day, and then they go home and sit some more until bedtime. If they are going through the motions of life (and you are taking into consideration their lifestyle choices), you can question if it’s truly a hobby. Essentially, a hobby is done for enjoyment and relaxation. Production is a bonus but not a requirement. I think I mentioned this article in my journal, but I’ll leave this here for people interested in what it means to have and use leisure time: https://iasc-culture.org/THR/THR_article_2018_Spring_Tyson.php.


#4

You know what’s depressing as fuck?

When I come home from school, I barely have the energy to do anything. Whether that’s my own hobbies and building myself up, or do homework that I was given which is pretty much a big “fuck you” to what I wanna do in life.

And I’m just a high school student.

And you’re right. Consumption is not a hobby.


#5

I’ve read all the posts and I have to say that I agree with those who say that consumption can be a hobby. It might not be everyone’s hobby of choice, but I think we need to be careful about assuming that common pursuits, like TV shows and music, are somehow wrong or worthless. We are also jumping to conclusions if we assume that people are utilizing these activities in a way that is mindless or compulsive.

So the question becomes, how well do we know these people who we are judging? If we are at the point where people are listing their hobbies to us, I’m pretty sure we don’t have the knowledge to judge what they actually mean when they say “I enjoy movies”. They could be a compulsive consumer, or they could be a film buff who gets great enjoyment and fulfillment from watching films about the Civil War or films by certain directors.

For an example, I don’t think listening to music is passive at all. If someone is passionate enough to list “listening to music” as a hobby, I would imagine that – like most of my music-loving friends – they have an intense relationship to music that is similar to the relationship that art-lovers have with viewing paintings and sculptures. It’s easy to judge someone based off information you see when they’re around people, but let’s not forget that everyone has a private side as well, which they only share with people closest to them. Music and film can be very intimate and vulnerable works of art that engage the mind in incredible ways.


#6

Excellent arguments! To be honest, when say I don’t think listening to music or watching Netflix is a hobby, I’m not thinking of the people whose passion you can see in their eyes while they tell you they go to the cinema for every new movie release and have a DVD collection of 600 movies, or the person that also creates music themselves and have a passion for musicals, or do DJing in their free time. I’m thinking of the people that lots of us have been as well - the person in the introduction round that says their name and where they come from, just to be quiet again until the others ask “…and your hobbies?” and they give everyone a blank stare while internally freaking out like “what AM I doing?” before remembering they listen to music on the way to school and throw on a round of Netflix to fall asleep to. I feel like there has been a sharp increase in that type of person, and I think we all know why.

My point stands that hobbies aren’t compulsive or done because there’s nothing better to do, or as a side thing, something you aren’t too thrilled about but that still make up most of your day. It’s for me, a thing you’re passionate about and that makes you happy and that may not fill the most of your day, but always try to make time for. A thing you maybe even go out of your way for. A thing you actively take part in. When I talk with the above people, I see none of that. I can even see a bit of shock in their eyes as they realize that this is really all they’re doing, before getting back to it as always - as I have done in the past as well. It’s not considered time well spent in their eyes even.

I guess what I technically tried to express in that context with “consumption” is making consumption your hobby, and just that. Not the active part of collecting, visiting, thinking, creating, and attentively focusing on it that comes with some hobby-forms of consumption like the movie expert or the band member. I guess it comes down to honing a skill as well. Are you cooking to survive, or cooking to have fun, socialize and get better at it? Do you listen to music as a distraction, or because you’re seeking inspiration for your own production? Do you watch Netflix to feel less alone for background noise, or because you wanna be a movie creator some day? Just examples of course.


#7

I’m not quite sure if you are arguing against a point I made as we seem to be in agreement on the issue of judgement :slight_smile: . My argument was simply that you can’t really judge a person’s hobby without knowing additional information. For example, people judge romance readers without thinking about other factors (maybe they are a hardworking lawyer who reads romances for relaxation). However, I also think judging the hobbies of an individual person is a pointless and unnecessary activity.

Being passionate about something doesn’t negate its passivity. Passivity is not inherently bad. And to clarify, I use passivity to mean “input” that doesn’t require an output. Viewing art/listening to music is passive from a sensory perspective (buying art or music is consumptive). However, if you enjoy discussing music with others that is not a passive activity. None of it is wrong as it is neutral activity that we make judgements about based on our values. Many of my interests are passive and/or consumptive. For example, I study languages, so I can read literature in its original language. Someone might claim that the output/production is applying that language to literature, but the end goal is still all about input (taking it in through my eyes and brain). There’s nothing productive or applicable outside of that I simply enjoy doing it. I’m not applying that skill toward a job or enhancing society. No one benefits from it. I don’t plan to use my knowledge to travel the world and have conversations with locals. I could do all of that, but I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much. In fact, I don’t tell most people about it. These activities certainly engage the mind, and I value them higher because intellectual stimulation is important to me. However, I’m not going to knock anyone for enjoying reality TV in their time off.

Nietzsche wrote about eternal recurrence, and your post reminded me of that because he asked the reader to think about what their reaction would be if they were visited by a demon who said they had to relive the same life over and over again. If you find that the activities you do now do not bring you joy, then that’s a signal to make changes. I think your example of watching Netflix to feel less alone sums up a potential larger problem very well. I definitely agree with you here that what people can do can show signs of a larger problem; however, it’s harder to tell if that problem is applicable to individuals. I enjoyed this topic because it required that I also think about my current interests and the purposes they serve. Sometimes we get into habits and don’t stop to think if we’ve outgrown them or if we are doing them simply out of habit.


#8

Oh no, I’m in total agreement with you. I know it might have come across like I was arguing with your post but I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant to clarify that we need to know someone before judging their hobbies.

I also agree with you that being passionate about something doesn’t negate its physical passivity. However, if you are fully engaged with something mentally, then I don’t consider it to be a passive activity from a mental standpoint (like listening to history podcasts, which can require a lot of engagement in order to retain the information).


#9

Yeah, that’s definitely me. All day I’m just sitting down repressing myself and then finally when I get my hands on an outlet like strength training, running, skateboarding, or swimming I can finally let all that repression out. I’m pretty meek and unsuspecting in real life. I don’t know why I struggle so badly to express myself in my day to day (lots of fear involved for some reason) but outlets like the ones I listed above bring me great joy because I feel like I have full permission to not hold myself back in any way.


#10

To me, when reading this sentence, was that the goal for most of my hobbies is to get better at it. I do think, I became a lot better at watching movies and television series when I used to do so a lot. There a spectrum of active versus passive watching, however, with movies and series in particular, it’s really a sliding slope and so easy to shift to become a passive viewer.

Now I reached the point in which I think I have little to gain from watching movies and therefore I don’t watch them as often as I used to do. Hopefully, this gives you another point of view than solely the criteria to create something.


#11

I haven’t found that anyone would list the forms of consumption you mentioned as hobbies. Most people I know don’t have any legitimate hobbies and somewhat surprised when they face that fact. The other group legitimately do have hobbies and tend to mention things like BJJ, rock climbing, mountain biking, cooking etc.

Also this is kind of off topic but related:

However what I have found interested is how many people list things like video games, watching youtube, going on facebook as forms of relaxation or destressing after work. I know a lot of people who come home from work and fire up facebook and youtube and that’s the rest of their day until it’s time to eat and go to bed.

It’s interesting because from a awareness standpoint I guess these things feel relaxing because they take no cognitive effort on your part. You can just keep clicking and scrolling. But as you keep doing that you’re releasing dopamine which has stimulating effects on your body. Constant stimulation like this actually prevents you free truly relaxed and refreshed after a long day.

I think this might be one of the reasons that Americans rely on so much caffeine to get throughout the day. It also explains the immediate feeling of fatigue you get hit with after coming home from a long day. Maybe in the 1850’s peoples body’s would have had the time to actually replenish and heal but now they’re just continuing the stimulation as soon as they get home from work.

People tend to think of “stress” in emotional terms as in a boss yelling at you or cramming for final exams but stress is really the total aggregate of all the stimuli on your nervous system. Meaning the amount of light received by your retina, sound experienced by your ears, activity by your body, thought exercised by your mind etc.

So it’s really important to take into account that while you’re thinking you’re relaxing you could actually be placing a lot of load on your mind and body through purely consumption based activities, depending on how stimulating they are.

So I think it’s better to think of relaxation from that point and mental stimulation from digital things when possible.


#12

That and a lack of quality sleep, which is also being shortened due to device use late at night.

Great insights in this thread, I really like all the different viewpoints, although we are not disagreeing, everybody attacks the problem from a different angle!