But is it a hobby?


man-knittingA hobby is usually defined as a spare-time recreational pursuit. Therefore, for an activity to be considered a hobby, it needs to be performed after work, purely for fun, without generating a (regular) income. In other words, hobbies cost money. They do not bring money.

Definition of a hobby as a spare-time pursuit from which the hobbyist does not make money is very board and can lead to confusion. At one time in her career, the well-known American experimental performance artist and musician Laurie Anderson was advised by the Revenue Services to declare her work as a hobby – because she was not making any money from it. (The taxman was not being soft on the poor struggling artist; his objective was to prevent the poor struggling artist from claiming the deductions and other benefits a self-employed professional is entitled to.)

On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who list watching TV as their hobby. To others, watching TV may sound like nothing more than killing time, unless it involves some activity over and above pressing the buttons on the remote control unit (for example, keeping a journal or a scrapbook of favourite TV shows). And what to say about people who cite in surveys spending time with family and kid as a hobby?

All in all, hobbies are an ill-defined, amorphous mass of numerous activities. The line that separates a hobby from business, on one hand, and a hobby from passing the time, on the other hand, is thin and blurry.

On bidorbuy, and on most online marketplaces, hobbies are grouped together with toys, in Toys & Hobbies category. And toys, of course, can be a hobby: making them, collecting them, as well as (presumably) playing with them when you are grown-up. But then, practically any of the items and activities listed in over 3000 bidorbuy categories and subcategories can be considered as a hobby by someone.

Here is a selection of hobby quotes to clarify, or to further confuse the issue:

  • When a habit begins to cost money, it’s called a hobby.
  • Beware the hobby that eats.
  • My only hobby is laziness, which naturally rules out all others.
  • Life’s a hobby.