The Social (in)Significance of (Interesting) Hobbies

“So, what do you do for fun?” It is THE hated question of first-meeting-at-a-bar-small-talk questions. What do you mean, what do I do for fun?

It’s been a year since graduation. Everyone needs to have hobbies now – something that I spend my free time doing that’s different from everyone else and makes me interesting.

I begin crossing them off in my head – [Reading, lame. Puzzles, sad. Writing, “oh! What do you write about?” – uh no. Shopping, high maintenance. British crime dramas (yes, specifically British), embarrassing. Yoga, along with everyone else in San Francisco, Seattle, New York. Volunteer, self-righteous. I drink, semi-alcoholic? I can’t talk intelligently about cooking or baking. Politics is not typically appropriate to talk about in any setting let alone a bar, and neither is religion (and I’ve broken both those rules before), so nope. Making something up may make this conversation more interesting, but then I could probably never talk to you again because we know how badly I’d fail at maintaining anything I made up in the long-term. And now I’m starting to think that that may not be such a bad thing.]

“So, what do you do for fun?”

“Oh, you know. I just hang around, explore the city.”

Decidedly boring. But what did you expect me to say? That I farm tulips and socialize with my pet chicken on the weekends?? Or perhaps I happen to also be an amazing artist, so I spend my free time in studio? Or I can magically afford to travel regularly to exotic locales to work on perfecting my already perfect tan?

I have no more excuses in the form of – “oh, well, I’ve been busy studying this and that. I like to do this, but haven’t done it in awhile because school.” Somehow working towards the worthwhile personal goal of academic achievement lends itself to judgment less severe.

The fact of the matter is that I love my work. I spend a lot of time doing it. I also greatly enjoy spending my free time alone, probably more than the next person. I like being productive, and so spend my time (again, usually alone) working on pet projects that may or may not result in anything in particular. I like to read articles and take classes on nearly everything, but no, that does not somehow mean I could intelligently discuss Chinese art with you.

What could this someone in a bar do differently? Don’t require me to present my likes and dislikes on a silver platter, awaiting your judgment. There are plenty of other questions to answer and things to talk about that don’t require me to outline my Facebook profile of exceptional life events and ‘hobbies.’ You’re objective is to get to know me? It shouldn’t be so easy for that would only serve to relinquish the complexities that make each person intriguing. And where would the fun be in that?

So, if you want to ask me what I do for fun, don’t forget to bring me another drink.

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