The Anti-Hobby

 

**I don’t want to make this overly political, so please refrain from name calling and side pointing.**

I had been pondering the latest attacks against some artist or other. I can’t remember which. But it got me thinking about the people who do that. What makes them tick?

I slam various “art” all the time. I didn’t like that movie for X, Y, Z reasons. I don’t like that song for A, B, C reasons. I don’t like hipster fashion because: obviously. But then I move on. There are people–throughout history, not just now–who take it upon themselves to squash stuff they don’t like. Get books banned/burned. Get artwork pulled down from galleries. Get songs off the radio and the musicians fined. Punch hipsters in the face. (I actually don’t have anything against hipsters or hipster fashion. I’m just going for easy jokes because I’m lazy.)

And I’m not speaking about stuff that can be actually injurious. Getting a no littering sign put up because there’s broken glass all over your street. Or lowering carbon emissions because everyone you know has asthma. I’m just speaking broadly of culture. Stuff made by people with liberal arts education or no education (difference?).

To take up those causes not only becomes a campaign, it becomes a hobby. They’re not getting paid for it. They’re doing it on their spare time. That’s a hobby. But instead of a hobby about what they LIKE, it’s a hobby about what they dislike.

An anti-hobby.

And that’s a really strange concept to think about. Instead of a slightly-obsessive LEGO fascination, or shooting your friends in the nuts with paintballs, or going fishing with enough gear you could have otherwise bought a lifetime of fish direct from Poseidon, or playing soccer long after you should have quit because now you’re smashing into people and causing injuries, people have devoted their free time, their me time, their relaxation time, to dislike and hatred and anger.

I’m no psyclopseogist, but that’s got to be unhealthy. And there’s got to be something that sets that off. Some actual thing we can point to in the body or brain or chemistry and go, “yup, that person is going to scream about poop jokes on television if given a chance.”

And because it’s a hobby, or anti-hobby, it doesn’t just stop. It’s not three long posts on a forum no one reads and then off. They will keep going. The artist could be dead. The band broken up. The skinny jeans fat. They will be the voice of remembrance shouting that we shouldn’t every remember forgetting it.

And like hobbies, they collect groups of like-minded individuals. A true anti-hobby with newsletters and meet-ups and romance. All brought together into a community by mutual dislike.

I just want you to kind of contemplate that in a purely rational way for a moment. Most people have hobbies. Stupid hobbies. I play computer games. Read. Watch movies. Stuff I do to kind of turn off my brain and relax. I LIKE doing it. I like the subjects, even if moments within each hobby can be irritating.

So I don’t like…(thinks) New Country music. Sure. It’s got a fake, affected twang by people who don’t actually speak like that. You’re required to wear a cowboy hat despite there being no actual cowboys for roughly a century. It’s formulaic and forced and I believe entirely disingenuous. I’m sure I could go on if I watched/listened a bit longer. But since I don’t care for it, I don’t. And I can’t even imagine the leap of effort it would take for me to not only consume it, but pursue it with an effort of destroying it. Ban it. Get all the labels to drop it. No radios to play it. No venues to book it. What would have to take hold of me, or anyone, where they want to devote all their time to tearing down something they don’t like?

And, like I said, this is not new. People have been doing it for…ever. And you can say there’s race or religion or Rockabilly behind each anti-hobby, but I don’t think so. I believe if their target was destroyed, or never existed in the first place, they would have found something else. If New Country wasn’t around, they’d be hating on Reggae or Electronica or K-Pop Boy Bands, something.

Because to be an anti-hobbyist is a pretty wild concept. We don’t have anti-hobby stores and password security questions asking What’s Your Least Favorite Band.

My writing isn’t anywhere popular enough that I have any anti-hobbyists. But if I my next book was some breakout hit and it sold 15 infinity copies, then I’m absolutely certain there would be a horde of people devoting their time to shared hatred of my work. And that’s a really wild concept to think about.

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