The Non-Hobbies Part Two: Social Media
Last time, I wrote about how shopping was one of the things I used to fill the hobby void in my life. The second, more pernicious non-hobby I want to unpack is social media. While I think this a time-suck more people can relate to, it still doesn’t pass as a real hobby..and yet, I treat it like one.
It’s hard for me to imagine what I did with my spare time before the dawn of social media. I caught the Facebook fever along with most millenials about a decade ago, finding fun with my status updates written in third person ( I wrote captivating, deep statements like “Tina is so mad it’s raining!”, or “Tina can’t wait for the weekend!”). A few years later, Instagram replaced that fascination with the ability to snap perfect-looking, filtered photos and label them with clever hashtags (it took me a while to figure out that hashtags were less effective if you #hashtaggedeverythingyouwantedtosay). These days, I’m more of a passive social media consumer, letting my mind go blank as I scroll the entertaining randomness of TikTok.
I used to justify my social media consumption as much needed down time, a way to relax, recharge or ‘conserve my energy for work’; but if I’m honest, instead of feeling refreshed I actually feel more drained, anxious, and restless after a session of scrolling.
Here is why else I think social media is a non-hobby:
- Hobbies offer new challenges and experiences. I find no challenge or reward in the mindless scroll. Worse, since I started heavily consuming social media, I noticed a change in my ability to still my mind enough to focus on other things, like reading. It’s as if social media has dulled my senses and my attention span.
- Hobbies allow you to explore yourself and your talents. When I’m on social media, I’m not exploring myself, but others — and not even in an accurate sense. By now, we’re all aware that the picture-perfect ways in which we choose to portray ourselves rarely reflects real life. Still, on occasion, I find I compare myself to others while scrolling, putting me a weird, low self-esteem funk.
- Hobbies can strengthen your relationships; they can be an opportunity to share what you love with your friends and family, promoting connection. I find myself reaching for social media with a desire to connect, but feeling less connected, and more isolated and lonely after spending time with it, not real people.
- Hobbies prevent you from adopting bad habits; it’s a way to pass the time that cures boredom and wards off other less-than-healthy pastimes. In my case, being on social media actually fuels my other non-hobby, shopping. On Insta, I follow stores and style influencers who are constantly pumping my feed with the most aesthetic and desirable outfits. And so for me, the scroll is sometimes synonymous with a multi-hour online shop-fest.
…I could keep going, but you get the point. There’s enough evidence that I’m not getting the kind of fulfillment from social media that I hope real hobbies can bring to my life.
To recap: currently, I have two destructive non-hobbies that eat up most of my spare time, and I want that to change. I want to be challenged, to grow in unpredictable ways and find joy in it, to enrich my perspective, and to show kid Tina that her interests in fact aren’t irrelevant, that what she wants for her life really does matter.
So this next part of the story is where Tina tries things.