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Old 08-13-2019, 11:58 AM
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What do you consider a hobby?


I have noticed that not all extracurricular activities are considered hobbies. Like, if you do a lot of reading of mystery novels in your spare time, you can talk about that as a hobby around most people without rising any eyebrows. But if you say you watch a lot of reality TV in your spare time, I dunno. I don't think most people (including me) consider TV-watching to be a real hobby.

But why? This is just snobbery, right?

One of my favorite past times is taking long walks around town. Over the past few weeks, I have supplemented my foot travel with electric scootering. I get totally different yet wonderful experiences from these two activities. But for some reason, I don't feel as eager to claim "riding my scooter" as a hobby as I do "talking long walks." I don't know why I feel like this, but I do.

So what do you consider a hobby? And what activities would you not consider to be a real hobby, however you want to define "real"?

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Old 08-13-2019, 12:00 PM
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I definitely consider reading books to be one of my hobbies. I watch TV too, but it doesn't seem as hobby-ish as reading (or more active things). Maybe there's a level of passivity at which something ceases to be a hobby?
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:01 PM
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A hobby is something you do because you really enjoy it but make no money doing it.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:03 PM
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For me a hobby involves something material, that you do or collect/arrange, specially if it involves crafting; things like watching TV, reading books or taking walks are better described as pastimes. Basically, if you have something to show for it afterwards it's a hobby.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:12 PM
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A hobby is something you do because you really enjoy it but make no money doing it.
Really? I used to breed cockatiels and hand-feed their offspring as a hobby. I couldn't keep all the offspring, so I sold most of them. So my hobby wasn't a hobby?
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:12 PM
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For me a hobby involves something material, that you do or collect/arrange, specially if it involves crafting; things like watching TV, reading books or taking walks are better described as pastimes. Basically, if you have something to show for it afterwards it's a hobby.
By this definition, playing sports and board games aren't hobbies because they don't lead to the production or collection of anything material. And something like birdwatching would also be excluded.

If you asked someone what their hobbies are and they replied they are really into kayaking and birdwatching, would you accept these responses? Or would you feel like they missed the mark somehow?

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Old 08-13-2019, 12:13 PM
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Really? I used to breed cockatiels and hand-feed their offspring as a hobby. I couldn't keep all the offspring, so I sold most of them. So my hobby wasn't a hobby?
I'd call it a hobby, assuming you did it for enjoyment, and the money was just an ancillary thing.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:15 PM
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I consider it a hobby when I watch TV, but I actually put a little effort into it - I buy whole seasons on DVD, schedule time, and watch them with as few distractions as possible. I think that a lot of the "TV isn't a hobby" stuff comes from the fact that many people only "watch TV" with a fraction of their attention - they have it on while they're cooking, they happily turn it off in the middle of shows, they fall asleep to it. It's clearly not something they're devoting their time to - and I think something doesn't become a hobby until you are deliberately spending your time on it. Until that's happening, it's just something you happen to be pointing your head at - a pastime, not a hobby.

Listening to music is similar - you can make a hobby out of enjoying music, but for most people it's just background noise so it doesn't seem like a hobbyist "thing".

Honestly, the best way to "legitimize" a hobby is to collect it - to have physical evidence that it's something you're doing. I collect a couple of different types of toys, and collecting makes it a hobby; merely playing with toys is a pastime.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:17 PM
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I guess I'd define a hobby as something you want to do, but don't need to do. I realize that's pretty broad, but I would include any pastime that you concentrate and learn about. Whether that's binge watching Netflix shows, or Youtube documentaries, or collecting stamps. I'd include some time and effort spent as well. If I peruse a magazine in the Drs office, it's not a hobby. If I collect and read a year's worth of National Geographic it's a hobby (or at least could be).

I disagree with Jasmine, in that you can make money from a hobby -- but if you doing it to pay the rent I don't think it's a hobby anymore.

On edit: Ninja'd by begbert, as regards TV watching.

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Old 08-13-2019, 12:38 PM
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Things that can be done professionally or for profit being done simply for pleasure. I wouldn't consider flyfishing, for me, to be much of a hobby; I did it professionally for too long. I would say the same for racing. But blacksmithing? Reading? Home repairs? those -- easily are hobbies for me.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:57 PM
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It doesn't have anything to do with the activity itself--at least traditionally.

All "hobbies" are pastimes, but about 100 years ago, the middle class in the U.S. started increasingly to use the term hobby as a way, to call attention to their class status, when referring to their pastimes. The idea was that a person with a "hobby" clearly doesn't have to toil away 80 hours a week. (Before that, the word was mostly tied to the term hobby-horse, another term for rocking horse.)

That specific connotation has mostly faded, and but it lingers somewhat in that often we use the term to imply that a pastime somehow is more significant if we call it a hobby. The corollary is that many pastimes generate industries of sales of often superfluous accessories. The idea is that if you buy these accessories, your pastime is more "serious," and may assume the status of "hobby." By the same token, if you're buying supplies and using special tools, your pastime must be more serious, (and perhaps that leads to the assertion above that you have to produce something to have a hobby).

I realize this is a generalization, and doesn't apply to everyone, but I think it's mostly true.

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Old 08-13-2019, 12:58 PM
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For me, hobbies involve spending money on stuff and using skills, but enjoying it enough that there is never a drudgery of having to do it.

For that reason, playing an instrument does not qualify in my mind--it absolutely is a great way to spend lots of money, and is a skilled thing, but I don't know how many musicians look at practicing their instrument as being relaxing and joyful--it's more like work.

My machine shop, on the other hand, brings me great joy. I have four different small steam engine builds in flight right now, and I love being able to walk over to the blueprints on the wall and say "Hmmmm... I think I'll make this part today, it looks like fun lathe work. Let me find a chunk of brass."
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:33 PM
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guizot, your post was interesting!

I have noticed that young people make a big deal over hobbies and I think that social media is behind this. It is important nowadays that you have cool things to showcase on your Insta or Facebook page. So it is not enough to be a book-lover, because that is not conducive for a slide show reel. But cosplaying your favorite fictional characters is. You aren't really a serious crafter unless you have a blog and an Etsy store. You aren't really into art unless you on DeviantArt. So if you don't have these forms of proof, you don't have a hobby and thus that means you must sit around watching reality TV all day.

Hell, I am not young and even I have fallen into this thinking. I see many beautiful and crazy things when I am riding around town. The other day I thought to myself, "Maybe I can write a blog!" But then I thought about it and realized that wouldn't be fun at all. It would be a chore, trying to come up with ideas all the time and doing all the editing. Why do I have to validate the worthiness of my hobby by talking about it? Why can't I just enjoy it just for myself? My work life is competitive enough. I don't need to be like that in my spare time.


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Old 08-13-2019, 01:39 PM
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"Validate the worthiness of my hobby?" When I call my various pastimes hobbies I usually tag on the comment that the entire lot of them are completely unproductive wastes of time. They're stuff I do for fun, and I do them pretty seriously (so to speak) but at no point do I imagine anybody will think they're admirable.
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:44 PM
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I guess hobby can be defined broadly to enjoy just about anything done outside of your vocation. Personally, there is some level of passivity or inactivity below which I would hesitate to call something a hobby. If I like to nap in my hammock on the weekend, is that a hobby? I might consider watching TV, or reading as closer to that end of the continuum, than more active activities.

But no clear line. And I don't care whether someone calls something a hobby, pastime, leisure activity, or something else.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:00 PM
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Having change in your pocket doesn't make you a coin collecter. Listening to music doesn't make it a hobby. But, maybe music is a hobby for me. I have music books, have my "collections" (organized playlists), music spreadsheets and play music trivia games and do okay in them. And it would only be a hobby. There are levels above me, which would go beyond being a hobby.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:01 PM
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For that reason, playing an instrument does not qualify in my mind--it absolutely is a great way to spend lots of money, and is a skilled thing, but I don't know how many musicians look at practicing their instrument as being relaxing and joyful--it's more like work.
There are lots of amateur musicians who play music (or sing) as a hobby. Amateur bands, folk music groups, choruses, a capella groups, etc. They perform at community events, art festivals, music competitions, events, etc. Some get paid to play, but often it's just to pay for the expenses. I myself used to be a member of a barbershop chorus & quartet and sang at many events, and I did enjoy practicing.

I do think a "hobby" needs to be an activity, and not just passive entertainment. Watching TV isn't a hobby.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:13 PM
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I follow the Iditarod, and moderate a forum dedicated to it.

I used to raise fish and was very good at it...I also raise house plant. Fish poop is good fertilizer!

I LOVE photography and am pretty good at getting some pretty great snapshots.

Good food makes me weep in joy. And I cook/chef very well.

I collect interesting stuff.

All of these are/were hobbies for me.

I manage restaurants. That is what I do to afford my hobbies.

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Old 08-13-2019, 02:18 PM
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I definitely consider reading books to be one of my hobbies. I watch TV too, but it doesn't seem as hobby-ish as reading (or more active things). Maybe there's a level of passivity at which something ceases to be a hobby?
I'd go with this. I think a hobby is something you do. Watching TV is a recreation but it's not a hobby because it's something that you do passively.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:29 PM
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What do I do, and which of these activities do I think of as a hobby?

Cycling (I do a lot of that): Nope. That's exercise, fun and transport.

Watching TV (not much): Nope - pastime.

Cooking: Nope, that's just practical.

Reading French local newspapers (I do quite a lot of that): Nope, that's educational (language).

Travel: I don't think so - but let me think about that.

Growing vegetables: Yep.

Now I have the issue of why I think growing vegetables is a hobby where none of the others are. Weeelll - I spend an awful lot of time on this, and in the main it would be cheaper just to go to the store and buy them. There's an element of challenge to it. There's skill too (not so much, I'm afraid) and there's certainly commitment. It's done for a purpose/output (food).

I think if I cycled for the purpose of racing, that would be a hobby.

I think if I cooked for the purpose of developing expertise and repertoire, that would be a hobby.

I think education eliminates itself (my opinion).

Just watching TV can never be a hobby.

I'm still thinking about travel.

So yeah - commitment, expertise, challenge and a concrete activity with something to show for it. Those are my defining characteristics for a hobby.

I think I'll probably regret expressing this opinion.

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Old 08-13-2019, 02:42 PM
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I'd go with this. I think a hobby is something you do. Watching TV is a recreation but it's not a hobby because it's something that you do passively.
This. A hobby involves activity, not passivity. It involves practicing a skill or exercising a faculty of creativity.

If the the thing you do is basically about the passive uptake of information - such as reading, watching movies, or listening to music - I'm hard-pressed to call it a hobby. (but if you write books, compose music, or make movies for fun, those are hobbies).

If the central feature of what you do involves athletic exertion - such as running, biking, hiking - I think it's better to call it a sport.

Knitting, metalworking, building/flying RC planes? Hobbies.

It's said that every classification system has edge cases where it runs into problems, and mine is no exception. What if someone enjoys playing bridge? Or birdwatching? I feel like playing bridge isn't a hobby, but birdwatching is. But what are the features of these activities that lead me to feel that way? And if playing bridge isn't a hobby, then what is it?
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:52 PM
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I think TV-watching could be a hobby if it was intense enough and social enough. Like, if you hosted a Meetup event focused around watching a particular show and then led the discussion afterwards, that strikes me as a "hobby" level of interest. But in such a case, the hobby would be more specific than "watching TV". It would be more like "leading a discussion group focused on a specific TV show".

I really don't see how hobbies and pastimes are different from each other and why they even need to be distinguished. When someone asks me if I have any hobbies, I always assume they are asking what I do for fun in my spare time. I probably wouldn't mention TV-watching in a broad sense, but I might mention my tendency to binge-watch documentaries and bad science fiction movies on Amazon Prime. To me, it is all in how you talk about a thing.

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Old 08-13-2019, 02:53 PM
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Having change in your pocket doesn't make you a coin collecter. Listening to music doesn't make it a hobby. But, maybe music is a hobby for me. I have music books, have my "collections" (organized playlists), music spreadsheets and play music trivia games and do okay in them. And it would only be a hobby. There are levels above me, which would go beyond being a hobby.
I'd put myself in this category. I spend quite a bit of time doing things like obtaining (legally) ALL of the top 100 songs for every year between 1960 and 1990, or collecting DVDs that are "off-catalog." I spend much more time obtaining, maintaining, and cataloging than I do actually listening. Along the way, I pick up a variety of memorabilia (e.g., 8-track versions of albums, original demo acetates from certain groups, publicity photos of obscure groups, etc.). I'm not a DJ and virtually nobody I know has any idea I do this. It's strictly for my own enjoyment.
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Old 08-13-2019, 03:12 PM
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This. A hobby involves activity, not passivity. It involves practicing a skill or exercising a faculty of creativity.



If the the thing you do is basically about the passive uptake of information - such as reading, watching movies, or listening to music - I'm hard-pressed to call it a hobby. (but if you write books, compose music, or make movies for fun, those are hobbies).



If the central feature of what you do involves athletic exertion - such as running, biking, hiking - I think it's better to call it a sport.



Knitting, metalworking, building/flying RC planes? Hobbies.



It's said that every classification system has edge cases where it runs into problems, and mine is no exception. What if someone enjoys playing bridge? Or birdwatching? I feel like playing bridge isn't a hobby, but birdwatching is. But what are the features of these activities that lead me to feel that way? And if playing bridge isn't a hobby, then what is it?
Maybe putting various activities into different classes is your hobby?

I gotta admit I don't see the utility in all this splitting. Yes, people go jogging for exercise, but they can also be honing a skill or a mastering a goal (beating a certain time or running a certain distance), the same as any knitter or model builder . And why wouldn't playing bridge not be a hobby? I mean, yeah, playing the occasional pick-up game wouldn't qualify, but surely it is safe to say that if someone goes to bridge club every other night, they are engaged in a serious hobby.

But I think computer gaming is an obvious hobby. So to me it is logical to
include all gaming, including sports and cards, under the hobby umbrella.

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Old 08-13-2019, 03:21 PM
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I definitely consider reading books to be one of my hobbies. I watch TV too, but it doesn't seem as hobby-ish as reading (or more active things). Maybe there's a level of passivity at which something ceases to be a hobby?
I don't see how watching TV is any more passive than reading a book is. If one can be a hobby I'd say that the other can be too.
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Old 08-13-2019, 03:57 PM
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Heck, I run a hobby business...its a hobby business because I don't really need to do it - I'm not doing it for the financial benefit (though its turned into something that gives me a good deal of income every year). I suppose its technically not a hobby at this point, but I still refer to it as a hobby business. And I'm a hobby investor as well (though I do that for the financial benefit). I don't invest professionally, and I do it with my leisure time.

Of course, I'm functionally retired - except for that hobby business. Its all leisure time - well except when I need to get out the vaccuum. I don't clean my house as a hobby.

I also knit, read, bake and travel - more traditional "hobbies"
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:11 PM
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I want to rule out ordinary TV watching as a hobby since it requires no skill, ability, nor effort.

To me, a hobby means something that not everyone can trivially do right off the bat.

E.g., breathing isn't a hobby.

Note I mentioned "ordinary TV watching." I guess it's possible to put in some non-ordinary effort into TV watching. E.g., you are creating the comprehensive guide to errors in CSI:Miami. You watch the show carefully. Rewinding when you see something odd. Note when a pen magically jumps from a hand to a pocket. Log the time and error, etc.

I can tell you from personal experience that such errors jump out at me but are at times difficult for others to see even when pointed out to them.

So it's not something all do well, if at all.

Another thing about hobbies is that is an vague idea of "productivity" to it. This may be concrete like producing a replica sword on a home made forge, or abstract like now knowing what the element ratios should be in such a sword (and memorizing a ton of similar data).

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Old 08-13-2019, 04:11 PM
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For me, hobbies involve spending money on stuff and using skills, but enjoying it enough that there is never a drudgery of having to do it.

For that reason, playing an instrument does not qualify in my mind--it absolutely is a great way to spend lots of money, and is a skilled thing, but I don't know how many musicians look at practicing their instrument as being relaxing and joyful--it's more like work.

My machine shop, on the other hand, brings me great joy. I have four different small steam engine builds in flight right now, and I love being able to walk over to the blueprints on the wall and say "Hmmmm... I think I'll make this part today, it looks like fun lathe work. Let me find a chunk of brass."
I take guitar lessons as a hobby. I'm never going to play gigs or even learn a lot of songs by heart. I do it to keep my hands limber and my brain from freezing up.

I also do some woodworking as a hobby.

I used to do photography as a hobby. I guess it sorta kinda still is, but I'm not into the after-shoot fixing so much any longer.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:23 PM
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I don't see how watching TV is any more passive than reading a book is. If one can be a hobby I'd say that the other can be too.
I disagree. I feel reading is an activity while watching or listening is not. Children have to be taught to read; seeing and hearing are just biological functions. A television show is broadcast, a movie is played, and a concert is performed regardless of whether or not you're there. But if you stop reading a book, it doesn't read itself.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:31 PM
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I disagree with Jasmine, in that you can make money from a hobby -- but if you doing it to pay the rent I don't think it's a hobby anymore.
I agree with this. I make small amounts of money from some of my hobbies, but not enough to meaningfully figure into my finances, and that's not why I do the hobbies.
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:48 PM
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I disagree. I feel reading is an activity while watching or listening is not. Children have to be taught to read; seeing and hearing are just biological functions. A television show is broadcast, a movie is played, and a concert is performed regardless of whether or not you're there. But if you stop reading a book, it doesn't read itself.
You can't watch most movies properly until you learn to understand the spoken language. The book was written whether or not you're there; you just didn't get around to reading it immediately. If you stop playing the tape, it doesn't play itself.

In both cases you are passively consuming a product that somebody else produced. The major difference between the two is that it's not really possible to inattentively read a book - but that's not what your complaint is about, and in any case you can certainly get as involved in a movie as you can in a book.

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I want to rule out ordinary TV watching as a hobby since it requires no skill, ability, nor effort.

To me, a hobby means something that not everyone can trivially do right off the bat.

E.g., breathing isn't a hobby.

Note I mentioned "ordinary TV watching." I guess it's possible to put in some non-ordinary effort into TV watching. E.g., you are creating the comprehensive guide to errors in CSI:Miami. You watch the show carefully. Rewinding when you see something odd. Note when a pen magically jumps from a hand to a pocket. Log the time and error, etc.

I can tell you from personal experience that such errors jump out at me but are at times difficult for others to see even when pointed out to them.

So it's not something all do well, if at all.

Another thing about hobbies is that is an vague idea of "productivity" to it. This may be concrete like producing a replica sword on a home made forge, or abstract like now knowing what the element ratios should be in such a sword (and memorizing a ton of similar data).
One of my hobbies is watching cartoons, both american and japanese. I have extensive, ever-growing collections of each, and non-trivial amounts of money have been expended on each, filling many shelves with them. Watching them is an activity unto itself; I do not watch TV as a background to other activities*. However, I don't take notes while watching the shows, and don't consider studying trivia to be necessary or important to my enjoyment of the shows or the value of the activity.

Certainly nothing is produced by my collecting and watching cartoons (except an insufficiency of shelf space), and no skill is required to watch them (give or take a learned awareness of the symbols and tropes specific to each medium). However I still consider it self-evident that collecting/watching cartoons is a hobby of mine (and in fact I would consider the american and japanese shows to comprise two separate hobbies). Less because I've spent gobs of money on it, and more because it's something I specifically do for the sake of engaging in the activity itself. I certainly don't consider it a mere pastime - if it was a pastime, would I feel like I have an obligation to do more of it than I have time for? I've got five different movie and TV serieses pulling at my attention and feel bad that I can't get to them all at once, especially will all the other hobbies I have going on too.


* Though I do listen to commentaries while building/dismantling legos, since the activities don't compete for any given sense or part of my attention.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:38 PM
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I wouldn't consider "I'm just going to keep the TV playing in the background while I'm vacuuming the living room" to be a hobby.

But if I was talking to someone who claimed "TV-watching" as a hobby and I realized they were a walking compendium of all TV knowledge, then I would feel like they weren't just your average TV-watcher. Thus they would fit the definition of a "hobbyist" in my mind.

To me, it's not the passivity/activeness that matters. It's the level of passion and focus involved.

I wouldn't consider reading to be passive at all. When I'm bone-tired, I never have a problem turning on the TV and totally vegging out. But I have to have a store of energy to read for pleasure. Also, some reading really is challenging (I'm imagining a physics textbook written in ancient Greek). But getting through such challenging text can be fun and rewarding nonetheless.

Reading is also not passive because it requires going out and finding material. Most avid readers are particular about what they read; I don't know anyone who engrosses themselves in whatever rando book falls into their lap.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:50 PM
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My opinion:
Earlier I mentioned collecting coins.
Keeping a piggy bank is nothing.
Checking dates on coins and putting "old" coins in a jar is a pasttime.
Having books on coins, organizing coins, knowing when lincoln pennies started, when wheat pennies ended, when they had steel pennies, knowing what D, S and VDB on coins mean, and so forth makes it a hobby.
Going to conventions, spending hours in a coin shop is a "serious hobby".
Owning a coin store is a profession.

You could take about anything and be in any of these catagories. Riding bikes would be a hobby if you know bikes, bike parts, etc.
O
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:01 PM
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Does social stigma associated with an activity prevent it from being labeled as a hobby, even if it meets any other criteria one might come up with? It seems there is some of that in the discussion of books vs. TV. Books are considered more elevated somehow?

Someone can be a beer hobbyist, or a wine hobbyist, or even mixology hobbyist. What about a weed hobbyist, in today's world I'm sure there are those who would claim the moniker. Would we accept the hobbyist label for someone who likes to experiment with harder drugs.

What about a porn hobbyist? Or even sex hobbyist?

If not, why not?
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:03 PM
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There's stuff I do without financial reward or necessity. I don't label any of them as hobbies versus something else like a passtime. I don't particularly care about having a label for distinction between the various stuff I do.
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:06 PM
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Does social stigma associated with an activity prevent it from being labeled as a hobby, even if it meets any other criteria one might come up with? It seems there is some of that in the discussion of books vs. TV. Books are considered more elevated somehow?

Someone can be a beer hobbyist, or a wine hobbyist, or even mixology hobbyist. What about a weed hobbyist, in today's world I'm sure there are those who would claim the moniker. Would we accept the hobbyist label for someone who likes to experiment with harder drugs.

What about a porn hobbyist? Or even sex hobbyist?

If not, why not?
Well, if something is a straight up chemical addiction, I would question whether it was really being engaged in for recreational reasons.

But short of that, yeah, I'd suppose one could be a hobbyist in any of those things.

Your post did make me think - for something to be a hobby, maybe you need to do it differently or just more than other people normally do it?

Last edited by begbert2; 08-13-2019 at 06:07 PM. Reason: Making typos is my hobby
  #37  
Old 08-13-2019, 06:24 PM
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Well, if something is a straight up chemical addiction, I would question whether it was really being engaged in for recreational reasons.
An argument could be made that much of what we consider legitimate, socially acceptable, hobbies are the result of "addictions".
  #38  
Old 08-13-2019, 06:25 PM
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An argument could be made that much of what we consider legitimate, socially acceptable, hobbies are the result of "addictions".
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if it was a pastime, would I feel like I have an obligation to do more of it than I have time for? I've got five different movie and TV serieses pulling at my attention and feel bad that I can't get to them all at once, especially will all the other hobbies I have going on too.
The hell you say!
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Old 08-13-2019, 06:58 PM
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One activity that I never see claimed as a hobby is the thing all of us here do:

Message boarding.

It meets all the criteria of a hobby that I can think of. It’s active. It’s interactive. It takes some amount of skill in written communication. To engage a topic and put to text your thoughts about it in a way that invites commentary from others is more than just mindless entertainment. I’ve spent untold hours reading and posting in online fora since the late 1990’s. The things I’ve learned about the world and my own mind from doing this are immeasurable.

But if someone asked me what my hobbies are, I would never think to say “participating in message boards”. I think it comes from feeling like it’s not as “real” as other pursuits. But it is as real as anything else. If instead of going online and posting to the SDMB, I attended a weekly (or daily) meetup event where people discussed and debated various topics like we do here, my mind would be more apt to call that a hobby.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:11 PM
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If somebody asks, there are a couple of things I claim as hobbies. But I don't really think of them as hobbies. But I would be more likely to think of some of them as hobbies, based on the fact that (1) I devote time & money to them and (2) I hope to get better at them. So I'm not going to get better at watching television, and I'm not going to get better at reading novels. I'm not going to get better at taking long walks with my dog. I might get better at tennis, and I might get better at tap dancing. If I don't, no big deal. I'm not gonna get kicked out of the dance class or busted back to beginning tap; I'm not gonna get booted from the tennis club. I could also throw in the guitar. I have a hell of a lot of room to get better at that, as I only know two chords and one of them is E minor (and the other one isn't). I know you need to learn at least four chords, but not just any four chords. Dang!

I don't think I'm going to get better at message boarding, either.

Anyway, that's my criteria, devote time + money, hope to get better.

I also spend time + money doing DIY home projects but that couldn't be a hobby, 'cause I hate it, and only do it because I'm better at it than anyone I could afford to pay, or...I have to fix it up to a certain level before inviting an actual professional in to do the job right.

Fake edit: But, if I'm watching tennis on television, does that work into my hobby? Because I do miraculously get a lot better right after I've watched a few matches. So do my opponents, unfortunately.
  #41  
Old 08-13-2019, 07:17 PM
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A hobby is something you do because you really enjoy it but make no money doing it.
Sounds like my whole life. Great now I'm reduced to being a hobby.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:11 PM
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One activity that I never see claimed as a hobby is the thing all of us here do:

Message boarding.

It meets all the criteria of a hobby that I can think of. Itís active. Itís interactive. It takes some amount of skill in written communication. To engage a topic and put to text your thoughts about it in a way that invites commentary from others is more than just mindless entertainment. Iíve spent untold hours reading and posting in online fora since the late 1990ís. The things Iíve learned about the world and my own mind from doing this are immeasurable.

But if someone asked me what my hobbies are, I would never think to say ďparticipating in message boardsĒ. I think it comes from feeling like itís not as ďrealĒ as other pursuits. But it is as real as anything else. If instead of going online and posting to the SDMB, I attended a weekly (or daily) meetup event where people discussed and debated various topics like we do here, my mind would be more apt to call that a hobby.

This is so true!

When people are bummed out about not having friends/social life, the number one piece of advice they are handed is "Find some hobbies!" I think some people sincerely think hobbies will help you meet people, but if you think about it, the majority of hobbies that people engage in are not particularly social. The stereotypical ones--knitting, woodworking, model trains, etc.--are activities people typically do in their respective caves all by themselves. Sports and games are the obvious social hobbies, and yet some posters here have relegated them to the pastime category. But I'm thinking most people have a really broad concept of "hobby" (i.e., anything that will distract you from angst and loneliness, that you can bring up in conversation if someone asks what you're into and potentially impress them).

I just got back from my nightly scooter constitutional and I've done some thinking. I think if I am going to mention this as a hobby in a future conversation, I will frame it as "My hobby is checking out different parts of the city on my scooter to acquire local knowledge" rather than "My hobby is riding on my scooter". I don't think I'd be riding my scooter if I lived out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to talk about.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:06 AM
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Maybe putting various activities into different classes is your hobby?
If this thread is any indication, I'm in good company.

As it happens, I do like to look up the definitions of words to understand the nuances of their meaning and their etymology. I was thrilled when I got my first computer back in the 90s, and I could load up the CD-ROM that was included in my hardcopy dictionary. That let me look up words with unprecedented efficiency. Now with Google, it's even faster.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:32 AM
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Given the amount of time people seem to spend fucking around w/ their phones - hobby?

If I spend a lot of time hanging out w/ friends in bars - hobby?

Probably a fool's errand to try to define the word. Different people might derive different benefit from characterizing their own - or other people's - activities as hobbies (or not). Calling something a hobby might be complimentary or disparaging.
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  #45  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:34 AM
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To me, it's not the passivity/activeness that matters. It's the level of passion and focus involved.
This is exactly where I was going with it. A hobby is something you do with a certain level of seriousness.

Take gardening. It's a hobby if you take it seriously, you carefully plan a garden bed, you research the plants, you actively care for the plants. If you only mow the lawn and trim the hedges and plant a few bulbs, gardening is not your hobby, it's property maintenance.

If you watch TV, you're just passing the time. If you put time and effort into watching a particular show, and approach that show with a seriousness that goes beyond just having the TV on for an hour a week, it can be a hobby.
  #46  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:58 AM
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Given the amount of time people seem to spend fucking around w/ their phones - hobby?



If I spend a lot of time hanging out w/ friends in bars - hobby?



Probably a fool's errand to try to define the word. Different people might derive different benefit from characterizing their own - or other people's - activities as hobbies (or not). Calling something a hobby might be complimentary or disparaging.
I am going to start treating "hobby" the same way I treat "art". "Art" is a big box I reserve for any creative expression. It is a value-neutral category. So saying something is art does not imply I think it is good or particularly impressive.

So if someone tells me playing on their phone is their hobby, I will just go along with that because I don't really have a good reason to question whether that is a "real" hobby. (Plus it would be rude). But I can quietly question whether it is an impressive hobby. After all, when most people ask about one's hobbies, it seems to me they are trying to get a feel for how interesting or impressive a person is. If someone told me their favorite hobby is playing on their phone, I would assume either they are not very interesting or they have no interest in sounding like an interesting person.

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Old 08-14-2019, 10:42 AM
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A hobby is something you do because you really enjoy it but make no money doing it.
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Really? I used to breed cockatiels and hand-feed their offspring as a hobby. I couldn't keep all the offspring, so I sold most of them. So my hobby wasn't a hobby?
I would say that the distinction is not that make no money, it's that it's not your main source of income to make a living. If it becomes your main source of income then it's a business.
  #48  
Old 08-14-2019, 12:09 PM
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Anything you enjoy doing that isn't "required" of you -- work, household chores*, bathing, etc. *For some, household chores are a hobby, but you get my point.

This came up when I worked with the developmentally disabled. In the files we maintained on the individuals we served, we wrote down their hobbies. Many just preferred to watch TV, which was and is their right, and so we would say that So-And-So's hobby was watching TV.

Last edited by HeyHomie; 08-14-2019 at 12:09 PM.
  #49  
Old 08-14-2019, 12:41 PM
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The dictionary definition of "hobby" is "1. an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure." That would include pretty much anything. I can go with that.
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Old 08-14-2019, 01:59 PM
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This. A hobby involves activity, not passivity. It involves practicing a skill or exercising a faculty of creativity.

If the the thing you do is basically about the passive uptake of information - such as reading, watching movies, or listening to music - I'm hard-pressed to call it a hobby. (but if you write books, compose music, or make movies for fun, those are hobbies).
I'd call what you said a subset of what monstrosaid- I don't think you can have an active pastime like you describe without having an adequate level of passion and focus for something to qualify as a hobby. And of course, it has to be done for personal enjoyment. Plenty of people are very passionate, active and focused about non-work activities, but they're not doing them for fun either- stuff like PTAs, etc...

So I'd say that one person could ride bikes in the park as a pastime without it being a hobby, while the person who spends a significant amount of their time thinking mountain bikes, reading about mountain bikes and actually riding their mountain bike could call it a hobby.

Same thing about video games- someone who plays Tetris or Candy Crush on their phone when they're doing boring stuff like waiting in line probably shouldn't call that a hobby, but the guy who puts in 3 hours a night on Overwatch probably should.
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