Why people don’t have hobbies
The New York Times
More and more Americans say “they have no hobbies,” said Tim Wu. Part of the reason is that “we are all so very busy,” but the deeper reason is the growing expectation that “we must be skilled at what we do in our free time”—that everything in this “intensely public, performative age” reflects on your identity. “If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the marathon.” If you paint or write or play the guitar or do carpentry, you better be good enough at it to display your skills publicly. This is a terrible shame. There is a pure, childlike delight in learning something new, without the burden of excellence or self-judgment. “What if you decide in your 40s, as I have, that you want to learn to surf?” Or to learn to speak Italian in your 60s? Even becoming minimally competent is highly rewarding. Our affluent, technological era is supposed to free us from the struggle just to survive, so that we have time to pursue “purpose, joy, and contentment.” Why cheat ourselves of one of life’s greatest rewards—doing something that “you merely, but truly, enjoy”?