Monday, 4 December 2017

What is a hobby?

While filling out a form I came to a section asking about hobbies/interests/sport. I ticked the box. 
Then it wanted details.
Scrambling for the answer in my head was like looking for a handful of pins in the storage area at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark - my brain was overwhelmed by the task. Obviously the author of the form did not know me.

Interest? I have many of those - should I organise them into groups or rate them from highest interest down?   How do I tell what is an interest and what is a necessary part of my life and what is a hobby? There are some things that we do just because that is what we do.

I looked for definitions.
‘A hobby is an activity regularly carried out for pleasure in one's leisure time.   
The word hobby was also found in Middle English as a description of a small horse as in hobi or hobby horse - which could have come from the surname Hobin, Hobert or Robert, Hobbi and Robbie being nicknames for Robert.
And it was also a migratory Old World falcon with long narrow wings but that is another story.  So....’

I found a list of 50 most popular hobbies. 
More than half were what I would call sport or physical activities so I crossed them off as not hobbies. 
I don't count eating, cooking, walking or shopping because they are things we do to live ... how could they be hobbies?  
Travelling, listening to music, sleeping and computing were on the list too - I'm surprised that breathing wasn't there.

Reading and writing ... we do those everyday and sometimes we extend them to reading or writing whole books, but they are both daily activities.

Sewing, taking photos, watching TV and movies, computing and socialising - all part-of-my-normal-daily-life.

I like crossword puzzles,but not the cryptic ones, and I love solving the whole puzzle so prefer it to be easy. This activity is a really good for brain function - so not a hobby, more of a medicine.

Craft can be anything you make yourself from knitting to woodwork and most crafts have a practical or decorative use or give us a sense of achievement so they are necessary to our quality of life. But it's not a matter of thinking, hmmmm, I think I'll do some craft now – for me it's more of an extension of other things I'm involved in or thinking about.

Of course if the craft is sticking paddle pop sticks together or gluing pasta to paper then that is an exercise in fine motor skills to help with more necessary activities later on – so it’s training.

Gardening can be a hobby or an activity. Growing food or herbs or plants add value to the landscape, soil or wildlife, and that's not a hobby. If it's growing flowers then that's therapy and necessary to our wellbeing.

Finally at the bottom of the list was volunteer work. Is that a hobby? I think it's a necessary survival activity for our society and an act of caring that benefits the giver and the receiver. Good for mental health – so not a hobby.

It’s back to eating and sleeping – that’s what I do for pleasure during the time I have left over from my interests and activities and my daily life.


  1. But eating and sleeping are essential for survival, so can't be hobbies. It might be semantics, but I think the Hobby definition is somewhere on a scale between doing things to survive and doing them as a full time job. The Tax man/woman probably has a good definition.

  2. I think you need to allow for the concept of overlapping and intersecting categories...
    Hobbies and ......
    I think a hobby might be something you do because you enjoy it and it is not your means of income although it maybe, so long as it does not impede your sense of enjoyment and if you want you could stop indefinitely with out giving concerns to the cash flow.
    Also, FYI:
    The warehouse first appeared briefly at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a scene which has since has been ... "Hangar 51" is an obvious reference to both Area 51 and Hangar 18, places traditionally connected ...
    Sent from my iPad

  3. Oh ... that was meant to be a bit tongue in cheek.


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