What is it about the word “hobby” that causes a mild but palpable aversion? Perhaps it conjures images of pasty skinned men huddled in their basements painstakingly painting plastic models of Spitfire fighters and Panzer IV tanks. It also conjures images of knitted doilies and scrap-booking.
The “hobby shop” is a nerd hurdle in itself. It could partially be due to the bags of doll parts hanging on the wall of the “ladies” side of the store. But they’re kind of cool in their creepiness. The fake, dried flowers for making god knows what (wreaths perhaps?) on the other hand are neither creepy nor cool.
Is it this association with the word, combined with hobby stalwarts such as stamp and coin collecting, that turns us off? Or is there something about anything falling under the column “hobby” that is intrinsically nerdy?
Whether pursuits such as scrapbooking and ceramics are immutably dorky in and of themselves, as soon as someone proclaims their interests as hobbies, we look down upon them (the person and the activity).
Perhaps it’s that only true nerds would use the slightly outmoded term. Todays hip and savvy crafter has “interests” and their “thing”—but never a hobby. Even the older generation has cottoned on that they “do” ceramics or scrapebooking, but they don’t sully their handiwork with the dergatory H-word.
I suspect that part of the nerd association with hobbies is that they are innately personal, solitary pursuits where a person’s true colours really shine. There’s an ernestness to hobbies (usually accompanied with a fanatical devotion to them) which sets them apart from mere interests. And there is, of course, no nerdier quality than ernestness.
Which brings up an interesting dicotomy. Is an ernest interest in ironic fashion nerdy? Would the kids on latfh.com be less nerdy if they had an ironic interest in ironic fashions or more so? Thinking about it can make your head spin painfully—though undoubtedly specifically because you’re thinking about it at all.
So… what’s your hobby?
Above: Mandi mans the Ampersand Publishing table at Canzine 2009 where we nerdily nerded out on some of our zine and button oriented hobbies.