January 16, 2014

By Margaret H. Johnson

A Cure For the Common Hobby

 

   If you are like me, you grew up knowing that hobbies are activities that you do that can bring fulfillment, joy, inspiration, and a sense of pride.  Whether that hobby is playing sports, reading, learning an instrument, running, volunteering with animals, crocheting – whatever it is – hobbies bring out the best in us and make us more well-rounded and developed individuals.

      As I walked around my local mall the other day, I couldn’t help but notice how many people, young and old, seemed to be revelling in shopping, just as if it were a hobby.  Despite the excitement of Christmas being only a short time ago, it seems that many can’t get enough of shopping.  The irony lies in that you can often hear people complaining of how busy the mall is or how they couldn’t find a parking spot – yet, we are all there, shopping our lives away.  Consuming is the new ‘hobby’ that seems to have captured the attention (and money!) of people – it’s an activity that defies gender and economic boundaries.  But the question has to be asked – is it really a hobby? 

     Many people joke about shopping being a hobby, but a peek into social media will reveal the truth – that people actually do consider it a wonderful and fun way to spend your time.  Do a quick You Tube search and you can see ‘haul’ videos, in which a person will film, explain and maybe even review their recent purchases for their viewers.  In all honesty – who doesn’t enjoy purchasing new things for themselves or the ones that they love?  There’s the rush of purchasing a new item (sometimes a planned expense, sometimes not), the thrill as you hand over your hard earned money for said item, and the excitement that maybe, just maybe, this will be the item that improves your life in an unexpected way. 

     And when that day is over, and that purchase is done, the thrill is gone soon after.  The once coveted item, which was so well-researched and compared to other items in the same category, is now long forgotten, and the rush of purchasing has to be sought out again.  Now, of course, this isn’t a description of every consumer, but it is an accurate depiction of how we feel, most of the time, towards our belongings.  The more we shop, the easier and faster we forget how much we wanted that item.  It’s put on a shelf, or in a cupboard, or stored somewhere – and it’s forgotten.

     This year, let’s do things differently.  Let’s find real hobbies.  Let’s find hobbies that enrich our lives and the lives of the people around us - hobbies that bring out the best in us, and our wallets.  Hobbies that are sought out again and again – not because they offer an expensive, time consuming thrill – but because they offer a lasting sense of accomplishment.