Midnight Pub

Death of a Hobby

~canaryjacket

Last night, I made a decision. I am no longer going to "compute" as a hobby. Previously, I had a "fun" laptop where I would distro hop or indulge in configuring Linux or BSD systems to look or behave in the way that I want them to. This is also known as "ricing" (my work laptop doesn't get to be riced because it is for work and running macOS).

These days, I find myself gravitating towards hobbies that either have a productive outcome, or hobbies that are more relaxing. Configuring software does not seem to be either of these for me. In many ways, I feel like I am grinding away at a video game that ceased to be enjoyable for me a long time ago. Trying to configure open source software can be a strenuous process, and I am often not pleased with the results of my tweaks at the end of the day. There are always more tweaks to be done, and fixes needed for tweaks not quite complete. I suppose open source software is particularly frustrating for the perfectionist!

So, last night I wiped FreeBSD off of the fun laptop and replaced it with a vanilla install of KDE Neon. And then, I put the fun laptop on the shelf. I think it will remain on the shelf for a long time. In the meantime, I will be pursuing other hobbies such as learning Spanish, reading books, and exercise.

My lesson learned is to fill my free time with hobbies that I find relaxing and fulfilling, not just things that I find intriguing. When I have a hobby that makes me feel tired or stressed (even if it is engaging), I feel like I'm working a second job. The ricing grind promises cool things, but in wisdom and experience I push it away.

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Replies

~orkney wrote:

That sounds like a bold step. Good luck with it. I hope you don't go "cold turkey" leaving your computing.

Thanks for writing. It encourages me to think about doing something similar...

~remy wrote:

I'm in the same boat. I've built 2 PCs and put all sorts of *nix on them, but now I only use my m1 MacBook Air. Everything I use never breaks, and it's hella fast! I'm keeping my builds around though, and I'm sure one day I'll boot them up again. Playing with smolnet made me want to host a pubnix, and maybe even plan9! So yeah I wouldn't say it died, maybe we're just taking a break :)

~eaplmx wrote:

Well, sometimes I like to feed challenged by my hobbies (involving creating interesting things), I agree with you sometimes you want to relax or even disconnect from everything else. So I feel your pain :)

~eaplmx wrote:

Whenever you want to practice Spanish, shot me a msg ;)

~bitdweller wrote (thread):

For me, the most important thing about hobbies, pastimes, or what I call "play" is to have fun. When I cease to have fun, I realize I should move on, at least for some time.

But, of course, fun is subjective. I have fun playing videogames, I have fun setting up stuff on my Raspberry, I have fun configuring XFCE to behave like Win95, I have fun reading.

But sometimes, I don't feel "fun" when reading so I stop. Sometimes a videogame drags for so long I stop having fun. Sometimes I get fed up with configuring a piece of software, so I stop. Because that feels like work. Even playing Minecraft, after a while, starts feeling like work. So I stop.

Then I forget about it and some time later, I will have the urge to come back to it. Be it reading The Hobbit (yes, I'm sorry, I will finish you), playing GTA or configuring a Gemini server to my liking. And it will be fun. Until it lasts. Then rinse and repeat.

~till-we-have-faces wrote:

Great idea. In the *worst* case, you go away for a while and come back to computer stuff with fresh enthusiasm. Nothing to lose, and everything to gain from casting your eyes to further fields.

~ploum wrote (thread):

I had a very similar experience a few years ago. For four years, I didn’t use Linux and only MacOS for very similar reason (also because my Linux laptop broke and my work paid for the mac).

I suffered and, a couple of years ago, I went back to Linux. First with a cheap laptop that was not powerful enough to be really useful then I invested in a Thinkpad.

And, suddenly, I realized how much I despised Mac. How much all the bugs were frustrating, how much all the shiny features were distracting. Free software is part of my identity, part of who I’m. It’s essential and I feel like I was hurting myself for not being home.

I agree that computing should not be an aimless hobby. There should be a goal. I now earn a living through teaching about free software. I’ve always been an activist about privacy, software freedom. Being on MacOS made me an hypocrit. Also, I hated the system. Apt-get, how I missed you!

But if it’s not part of your identity, if you are not enjoying the learning, if you don’t have any goal related to it, computing for the sake of computing is pure emptiness. Better shut down the laptop as soon as you earned your day.

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