Where did all the hobbies go?

In today’s interconnected digital world with endless opportunities to live your life online, it’s still important to strike a balance with the ‘real world’, if only for your own sanity. Our Senior Account Executive Amy shares her own personal thoughts on the subject.

On a standard working day, I’ll check, read, write and send emails for a large chunk of time. Google is also a friend of mine. Whether I need a quick definition or want to dig deeper, it’s my first port of call.

Add to that my apparent need to see what people I once knew are up to on my Facebook news feed, a spot of online banking, a tweet or two, a glance at the YouTube video that’s entertaining Sean, a watchful eye on the industry online press, a read about the latest social media platform to take off, and a scan of Daily Mail’s celeb news, and you start to see a pattern.

It’s all very digital.

In fact, the only times I’m guaranteed to be offline are during my early morning workout and the train commute (surrounded by other people’s smartphones and iPads, while I read a book). 

But I’m certainly not as prolific as some. I could be ‘checking-in’ to Caffe Nero each morning, or earning my Foursquare Mayor badge at Tesco Metro. I don’t because a) my iPhone has technical issues and b) I don’t want to let myself be completely taken over by technology.

It’s not that I don’t like digital – I do. But I also like things to be real. I want to hold my scruffy paperback. I like to talk to people. It’s good when they talk back. I get a kick out of being physically active.  It’s fun to play, not to just watch through a screen.

 

That’s why it gets me nostalgic thinking back to ten years ago, when every day of the week involved a different, real activity. Horse-riding, swimming, trampolining, baton twirling, football, tennis, Brownies, skiing – I’ve done them all, and more. And while I realise it’s not practical or realistic to behave now as I did back then, I can’t help but wish I’d held onto just one of those hobbies.

Is it just me? Am I lazy (something I’d never normally consider myself to be)? I think about my friends and what they do when they’re not being teachers, osteopaths, Mums or ad execs, and I can muster up the following offline activities they spend a small amount of their time doing:  gardening, knitting, photography, and football.

A nice list, but a short one at that.

So is it a generation thing then? Do we just do digital, and digital only? Are we so weaned on the web that we don’t allow ourselves time for real life connections and experiences? I’m leaning towards ‘yes’. So when I read an article in Viewpoint (Summer 2011 edition) about traditional skills people are taking up to make sure digital doesn’t have a monopoly on their lives, I started to smile.

In London alone, there are groups for wood carving, bike riding, crafting, carpentry and vegetable growing. All done in the company of others, who also want actual conversations and genuine participation.

So this got me thinking about what I’m going to do, in my concerted effort to spend time doing something that stimulates me mentally and physically. After all, it’s all very well having a small whinge about the digital lives we lead, but change only comes with action.

So I’m going to get a hobby. My hobby will be netball.

It may not be traditional or quirky, but it is social, challenging and indeed ‘real’.

I decided on my hobby when I was travelling home after work on the train.

I figured that as I used to play for my school, I must still have it ‘in me’. I thought it was surely better to do an activity that I know and love than to start something completely new that I could potentially hate. Or would it?

When the not-so-much-older-than-me woman sat down beside me and parked her two huge bags of flowers, leaves, stems and Oasis foam in between us, I suddenly thought about something I’ve never tried before. Flower arranging.

Flower arranging could be great, I thought.

And then she got out her iPhone, took a snap of her goodies, and posted it on Facebook.

Netball it is.

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