Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why I've Always Hated the Word Hobby

The word hobby has always bothered me. It sounds insincere and unworthy of respect, like a make-believe word masquerading as the real thing. I'm sure the word "hobbyhorse" is at least partly to blame for my feeling. Speaking of which, I wanted to include some clip art of a hobbyhorse in this post but couldn't find one up to my standards (surprise, surprise), and decided to go with my always-appropriate unicorn in a box instead (hey, it's still a horse).

Anyway, sometimes when I'd tell people about The Tote Trove they'd respond by saying, that's a nice hobby, and I'd be secretly offended. Irrational, I know, especially as these people were, for the most part, well-meaning and polite. But I remained perturbed, so much so that I consulted www.dictionary.com to find out what kind of connotation the good folks there ascribed to the word. This is what I found:

1. An activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation: Her hobbies include stamp-collecting and woodcarving.
2. A child's hobbyhorse.
3. Archaic. A small horse.

Begrudgingly, I had to admit that the definition wasn't nearly as disparaging as I'd anticipated. After all, I can't deny that I craft because I love it, not because I think I'll make any money. Still, a shadow of the patronizing spirit I'd expected was alive and well in the example. I don't think crafting can be equated with stamp-collecting. Woodcarving, yes, but not stamp-collecting. Not that there's anything wrong with stamp-collecting. Stamp collectors probably hunt down new stamps with the same enthusiasm that I hunt down new shoes. Even so, I don't put shoe shopping in the same category as jewelry making or painting. Although shopping can be a creative activity, say, in terms of coordinating outfits, it doesn't really require skill, whereas making art is about creating something where nothing existed before.

I'd be a lot more at ease with all of this if the definition at least included something about passions or creative pursuits.

So, what do my fellow artists think? Do you have positive, negative, neutral, or ambivalent feelings toward the word "hobby?" Or do you just think I'm nuts? It's perfectly okay if you do. Now that I've concluded this post I must admit that it's a little soap-boxy and makes me sound as though (gulp) I take myself too seriously. But being the vanity case I am, I decided to post it anyway :)

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