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When did we lose interest in hobbies?

The Guardian logo The Guardian 23/08/2019 Coco Khan

When did we lose interest in hobbies? © Shutterstock When did we lose interest in hobbies? Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Recently I dropped by a friend’s flat unannounced – a gesture intended to be sweet but which was probably annoying. As she rushed around attempting to make the living room Pinterest-presentable, I noticed a collection of tiny paint jars and thin delicate brushes on the table. “They’re Michael’s,” she said, swooping them into a box and into a cupboard. “He paints little figurines.”

Michael is my friend’s fiance. I like to think I know him well, but he’s never mentioned being a figurine painter. If painting figurines is something he loves, it hasn’t defined him. He does not describe himself as a “conceptual figurine artist” or an “artisanal miniaturist”, and he does not have a shop on Etsy.

What he does have is a hobby. Remember those? It’s what people had before side-hustles, before we became personal brands primed to earn above all else.

I miss my hobbies and doing things for fun rather than because I feel I should © Shutterstock I miss my hobbies and doing things for fun rather than because I feel I should

I miss my hobbies. I miss doing things for fun, rather than because I feel I should. Even my passion for reading has lost its shimmer; no longer an escape from working life but instead a dialogue with it. I used to bake – my lunch-hour indulgence while freelancing from home – but that was the first to go when a new job came in.

Do I really have no hobbies? What a sad, small life if so. Perhaps my weekly three hours at the gym could count (though I suspect a hobby should be born of enjoyment, not fear of early death). Podcasts, Netflix – are these my hobbies? I cannot improve at them; there is no eventual mastery to aim for. Isn’t this just rest with entertainment? Though if hobbies existed to counter the monotony of working life, perhaps ones which enforce respite to counter the exhaustion in our lives are exactly what we need.

Better get the oven on.

Gallery: 9 easy-to-follow knitting projects for beginners (Prima UK)

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