Why Don't Millennials Have Hobbies Anymore?

by Dan Scotti

The other day my friend told me -- jokingly, I hope -- that he was going to pick up carpentry.

“I need a hobby,” he explained to me, fed up with the monotony of his life.

I laughed, but at the same time, I understood what he was saying. While I didn’t expect my friend to open up any woodshop enterprises from the garage of his house, hobbies are at a premium in 2015.

It’s not like I have any hobbies of my own, either. None of my friends have hobbies. At least not in the conventional sense anyway.

Sure, I have interests. Even passions. But rarely will they ever manifest into hobbies, past maybe a Google search and some reading online. I don’t do anything aside from maybe sit on the couch. And with a pair of iPhone speakers and a Netflix subscription, I rarely feel as though I’m missing out on anything.

That might be the most troubling part about it: My life, void of hobbies as it may be, feels very wholesome. It’s as if modern technology has fooled me into thinking my life is very fulfilling. I mean, I have social media accounts to uphold, television series to chain watch and a whole bunch of dating profiles to swipe through -- so, what time do I even have for hobbies?

Well, a lot, actually. As wholesome as my life may feel, I truly have tons of free time. It’s just that I choose to spend my free time doing things that, today, wouldn’t necessarily qualify as hobbies. I try to go to the gym daily -- but that’s exercise not a hobby. I play FIFA -- but that's not really a hobby, either.

There’s a difference between hobbies and pastimes. Hobbies are things you have a genuine interest in; pastimes simply pass the time.

Painting is a hobby for artistic people. Carpentry, like my friend suggested, is a hobby for people who like to use their hands. Stamp collecting is a hobby. None of these things exist today, and I believe that it’s due to a general shift in the attention of society.

We’re not looking for the things that interest us or uniquely move us; we’re simply fixated on whatever is prepared for us on a silver platter by media outlets and trending topics.

A hobby should tell a lot about you. How you choose to spend your free time is one of the most intimate, revealing characteristics about your general being. But I feel as though in 2015, we’ve lost a lot of individuality. And as a result, we don’t feel the same drive to cultivate certain aspects of our own selves, be it through an interest in the arts or anything else.

Instead, we’re preoccupied with technology. Even more so, we’re distracted by it.

It’s hard to solely blame technology and whatever else for such a drastic shift in ideology, but it’s also hard to pinpoint other culprits.

For example, as reported by Eleanor Harding for Daily Mail, 25 percent of people claim that television is their favorite pastime. This may seem commonplace for the average Millennial in 2015, but that number is quite staggering. Fifty years ago, color television was just hitting the shelves of department stores. Today, it’s occupying the lives of one in four people.

According to Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, television is too good to pass up on. People genuinely enjoy watching television more than the alternative options, like playing pickup basketball or doing something crafty.

So, whose fault is that? Is it the fault of the audience for lacking any alternative passion, or the fault of the creators of TV programs for making shows that trump all other options?

It’s a difficult paradigm to make sense of. If hobbies have fallen by the wayside of modern technology, what could we propose as an adequate solution? Stop the progress of technology in attempt to revitalize society’s enthusiasm for the arts (and crafts)?

The fact that hobbies may be a thing of the past is an eerie thought. I can’t honestly say that I see hobbies such as “carpentry” making a comeback at any time in the near future.

At the same time, though, who’s to judge what is and what isn’t a hobby? Perhaps the technology we engage with that are considered replacements for real hobbies are our generation's hobbies. As sad as it may seem to older generations, we genuinely have an interest in Instagram, Twitter and other products of the digital age.

It seems shallow to use a word like passion to describe our interest in social media, but, hey, we’d only be spiting ourselves to deny that such a sentiment exists.

So while the older impression of what we think a hobby should look may be dying off by the day, I still have hope for hobbies as a greater concept.