We are voracious consumers of media, and something I noticed is how society seems to have a kind of heirarchy in terms of acceptability. One of the biggest defenses people will have when teased/criticized about having certain (usually really nerdy) interests is to compare their interest to something more mainstream- usually sports. In their mind, being obsessed with _____ should be just as acceptible as being obsessed with sports/wrestling/sitcoms/etc.
Maybe. But I think acceptibility of hobbies, even going beyond the fact that different people like/dislike things for different reasons, seems to operate on a continum. These are the categories I noticed people base their acceptibility of hobbies/interests:
How well known is it?
Is it age-approriate?
Is it gender-appropriate?
How much negative stigma is attached to it?
How much does the person define themselves by it?
For example, someone could have a conventional hobby, say watching baseball. This might not seem weird. But someone obsessed with baseball might get to the point where baseball becomes their identity. People seem more ‘accepting’ of hobbies/interests they consider normal. I think a big part of this though is because they understand what the hobby is about ahead of time. They can probably relate a little bit or find some common ground with why someone else likes baseball. But for really obscure hobbies, if a person has to exhaustively explain what it is/why they like it/etc, to other people it may seem more ‘weird’ because they’ll have a much harder time understanding why someone would be into it.
Another problem I noticed is that often times people are not just a ‘little’ into an obscure hobby, they are obsessed with it. This creates even more dissonance because to other people it may seem unusual that the person is so into something they have never heard of (possibly prompting questions like, “Why?” “Whats the point?”). If the hobby is something that isn’t conventionally age/gender appropriate, it will raise more questions/judgements.
Anecdote: Last week I had a guy in his thirties get on my bus, with a t-shirt that said ‘BRONY’ on it. Immediately after he got on he started talking about this show My Little Pony, and without any response from me started going on and on about it- who his favorite pony was, all the little in-jokes in the show, how the show is some sort of analogue to his own life, etc etc. People can like whatever they want, but it was interesting how someone would be so candid about liking something most people had 1.) Never heard of 2.)Was not age-approprate and 3.)Was not gender-appropriate. Without being prompted at all he went on and on about it, most of his conversation subtly justifying why a 30-year old man would enjoy watching a little girls show about cartoon ponies. At some point, someone behind him (probably impatient about having to wait for this guy to finish rambling) asked him incredulously, “You like a show about cartoon ponies?” and the Brony guy got huffy and sat down without incident. But after a little bit he started talking to people again and basically used my earlier example (sports) to try to justify his interest- why is it ok to say, “Hey, how about those Giants?” but not “Whats your favorite pony?” “Do you think the ponies on the show should be anatomically correct?” :eek:
I didn’t really want to get in a debate with him at the time (being on the clock and all) but it got me thinking about the issue- are there some things more acceptable to be obsessed over?