44 votes

I Can't Do Anything for Fun Anymore; Every Hobby Is an Attempt to Make Money

20 comments

  1. [2]
    ainar-g Link
    It's a short read, but it describes really well something that has been bothering me for a few years. It feels like the IT culture in particular has this fetish of turning your hobby into a $64M...

    It's a short read, but it describes really well something that has been bothering me for a few years. It feels like the IT culture in particular has this fetish of turning your hobby into a $64M business.

    18 votes
    1. hackergal Link Parent
      I feel this pressure and I hate it. Every time I tell a friend or family member about a cool idea I have for a fun project, they start telling me all the ways I can make money off it. But I...

      I feel this pressure and I hate it. Every time I tell a friend or family member about a cool idea I have for a fun project, they start telling me all the ways I can make money off it. But I actively avoid that way of thinking, because I know that as soon as I shift focus from "I want to do this cuz it's cool" to "I need to do this to make money," I immediately lose all interest.

      6 votes
  2. rkcr Link
    The potential stress of monetizing hobbies causes me to have the opposite reaction as the author: I just don't even humor the idea. For example, I've released a whole bunch of random side project...

    The potential stress of monetizing hobbies causes me to have the opposite reaction as the author: I just don't even humor the idea. For example, I've released a whole bunch of random side project apps over the years and never earned a cent from any of them, despite that being a theoretically easy thing to monetize.

    The bigger problem for me is that some hobbies cost money, and I have to wonder if it's worth the cost... e.g., I made a weird side project podcast in the last year, and the recording quality is extremely low because I'm not willing to buy a nice mic just for a silly joke.

    17 votes
  3. [4]
    ThatFanficGuy Link
    This is something I've been having an issue with for a while now. It's not as intense as it is for the author, but it clearly makes a difference in the way I think about things. The difference...

    This is something I've been having an issue with for a while now. It's not as intense as it is for the author, but it clearly makes a difference in the way I think about things.

    The difference between me and the author is that I don't have a steady income: I do need the money. I only way I'm making any right now is by working for a friend on the web side of his project. I like doing it – it's engaging and entertaining, and it pays (not much, but it's something), and I get to help a friend out with a thing I appreciate (Indigrid; I talked about it a few times here). All in all, a good gig.

    The way I wish I could make money is from my writing, which becomes such a goddamn slog whenever I consider whether my work can attract people, or whether people will enjoy it (so that, of course, they can donate to me on Patreon)... It's a ridiculous mindset, and it poisons my relationship with one of the few things I enjoy doing. Do I like writing now? Hell no! I dread it, ever more so than when I used to do it solely because I had fun with it.

    Today I've decided to retire a worldbuilding project I've been working on for way too long: 2011, the Harry Potter AU thing I keep mentioning on Tildes. It started out because people became curious, and I thought I could turn it into something for exposure. Then Patreon and the money aspect kicked in, and it all started to seem oh so goddamn dreadful. I started writing it with some fun in the process; now it's a slog to finish the thing that didn't begin as a spark of my own.

    It's not a good mental place to create anything from: you start cutting corners, and you start to push yourself where you aren't comfortable (not in a productive, self-development kinda way), and you start thinking in terms of appealing to an audience, which is where the creative part of it rots and becomes foul. People will notice. People aren't fooled by bullshit, even if you, the author, can afford to fool yourself with it. They will see through it all, and they will be left dissatisfied, and they will go to the next author, who cares, who puts their soul into the it, and that author would deserve the attention I you could've gotten if I weren't so concerned about the cash. I get that not all work is supposed to be sunshine and rainbows, but how good can it be if I can't even force myself through it and procrastinate on it for weeks at a time?

    I'll finish 2011 as best I can, and I'm going to release it, and I'm going to tell people about it without expecting anything in return, 'cause I don't think it's a project that deserves much attention the way it is now. It's pretty good – but not nearly as entertaining as I wish it was when I started it, when I was still overflown with cool ideas to render on a page of text.

    The only thing I treat as a hobby these days is a screenplay I'm jotting down from time to time, and a Russian family – father and son, both adults – starting a business in the US after their wife/mother dies. I know there's no chance it's ever gonna get made, so I'm having fun with it. I'll probably release it when it's finished, but only just so people could see it. ('cause no way a big studio is going to pick that story up! It's very unusual, by Hollywood standards.) Until then, I'm just having fun with it. It's a refreshing experience.

    12 votes
    1. [3]
      ainar-g Link Parent
      Not having money is a whole issue of its own. Many well-off people can sort of combat this whole people-pleasing thing with a little bit of “fuck-you” attitude towards potential clients: I am...

      Not having money is a whole issue of its own. Many well-off people can sort of combat this whole people-pleasing thing with a little bit of “fuck-you” attitude towards potential clients: I am building what I want to build. If you like it, then pay for it, and if you don't, then go find another one. And if too few people like it after a year or two, just shut it down. Put “entrepreneur” into your CV and find a job again.

      But they can only afford that kind of attitude because they can expect to have a good amount of savings by the time they start it. If you have very little savings, this attitude becomes much harder to achieve. This is where a UBI would come in handy, but let's not turn this thread into Marxist propaganda, shall we :-) ?

      9 votes
      1. [2]
        The_Fad Link Parent
        Playing softly in the distance
        2 votes
        1. ainar-g Link Parent
          Use the version with the correct lyrics, comrade! (The current anthem of the Russian Federation and the anthem(s) of the USSR have the same music, but different lyrics, with the modern one being...

          Use the version with the correct lyrics, comrade!

          (The current anthem of the Russian Federation and the anthem(s) of the USSR have the same music, but different lyrics, with the modern one being just your usual patriotic stuff, and the Soviet one being more ideological.)

          1 vote
  4. [8]
    elcuello Link
    Money kills creativity. This is just one of the backlashes of capitalism and we had it coming. Because we build our lives and culture around money it's going to eat us up eventually. I can't wait...

    Money kills creativity. This is just one of the backlashes of capitalism and we had it coming. Because we build our lives and culture around money it's going to eat us up eventually. I can't wait until it happens. Maybe...just maybe we'll find something else worth striving for.

    7 votes
    1. [4]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [3]
        elcuello Link Parent
        That's really making the best of it so good on you. It's not that I don't see how you can use capitalism for better ideas and in your case even the complete opposite but why do we have to have...

        That's really making the best of it so good on you. It's not that I don't see how you can use capitalism for better ideas and in your case even the complete opposite but why do we have to have this necessary "evil" to begin with? Wouldn't it be better if you didn't have to use A as a starting point to describe B but could just use B to underline and expand more B? I don't know if that makes sense and I know that "oppression" can inspire creativity but what if your pursuit didn't have to encompass capitalism from the beginning. What if you could cut that distraction out and focus your pursuit on your true goals.

        1 vote
        1. [3]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. Micycle_the_Bichael Link Parent
            I think... you'd write about how capitalism is bad. Tolken didn't need dragons or elves to write LOTR, Phillip Dick didn't need psychics to exist to write Minority Report. Hell, even Orwell didn't...

            More to your point, if A (capitalism) didn't exist and I could focus on B (my philosophical message), would I even have B? As I mentioned, my message is currently minimalist, anti-consumption, love, anti-capitalist. So if capitalism fell right now and we arrived at utopia, what would my art be? I truly don't know. Fortunately (or--again--unfortunately)[...]

            I think... you'd write about how capitalism is bad. Tolken didn't need dragons or elves to write LOTR, Phillip Dick didn't need psychics to exist to write Minority Report. Hell, even Orwell didn't need the world he envisioned to actually exist when he wrote 1984. You can write about how bad Capitalism is (or if we are saying Capitalism literally doesn't exist, rather than what I interpreted your comment and the person you replied to saying which was what if capitalism wasn't the predominant economic system of the world, you could still write about a society that values money over everything) without living in a capitalistic society. That's the basis of all philosophy.

            I'll also say I strongly disagree with the idea that artists need to struggle in order to be successful. It reminds me of Chris Gethard talking about his manic depression and how he avoided going on medication for a long time because to him and much of the community if he wasn't suffering how would he write good comedy? He made a whole (incredibly good IMO) comedy special and book about this called Career Suicide. I'd strongly suggest picking it up or watching it. Partially because of how it relates to this topic, but also partially because I think he's the funniest goddamn person and its a good special.

          2. elcuello Link Parent
            Why would being creative be without worry just because we remove money issues? That's what I don't get. I get that capitalism is your current fuel but it's not like it's the root of all problems...

            I understand what you're saying and I agree in principle. It does sound lovely to be able to simply create without worry about how you're going to pay your rent. But at the same time, a lot of art is about conflict and if everything is taken care of for you, what kind of real world conflict have you experienced? I have a literary background, and I always wanted to be a literary author. But the reality is that I've lived a pretty charmed life. My struggles have been superficial. So when I've sat down in the past to write something more literary, it comes out as navel-gazing. Fortunately (or unfortunately), life has dealt me some great existential ennui these last few years and maybe that will help inspire some more literary pursuits as I stumble into middle age.
            More to your point, if A (capitalism) didn't exist and I could focus on B (my philosophical message), would I even have B? As I mentioned, my message is currently minimalist, anti-consumption, love, anti-capitalist. So if capitalism fell right now and we arrived at utopia, what would my art be? I truly don't know. Fortunately (or--again--unfortunately), I see a further descent into a darker and harder capitalism in my lifetime, so I'll probably always have something to rage against. Really, though, the rage I feel for capitalism is more about our current style of capitalism and how people so blindly accept their consumerist roles in it.

            Why would being creative be without worry just because we remove money issues? That's what I don't get. I get that capitalism is your current fuel but it's not like it's the root of all problems for mankind and manmind so what's to say one of the other philosophical (or practical for that matter) issues can't be the future fuel if we remove capitalism? We human beings have an unique way of finding problems even if there are none. But you kinda said it yourself. You like capitalism so your preferred fuel is to perfect it rather than abolish it.

            As for your original idea, money killing creativity, I might argue that it happens at the other end of the spectrum. Too much money, which takes much of the struggle out of life, can kill creativity. Not always, but in a lot of cases. If an artist becomes too successful and too rich, they can lose that original spark. And I think this goes back to needing conflict and struggle to really have something important to say. When you no longer have that, you can lose touch with the rest of humanity.

            But why do struggle and conflict have to evolve money? What I originally meant was the concept of money is irrelevant to equally important questions and issues and by solely focusing on money we deprive ourselves opportunities. It's the easy way out. I got no money? - write a book about getting more money. I have too much money? - write a book about how to use them so you feel good about yourself. My neighbor has more money than I? - write a book about how money doesn't really matter (or write the first book again). Like you I've had a similar upbringing in terms of struggles but still there are a million issues we fight every day that doesn't have anything to do with money if we really try to think about it.

    2. [4]
      ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
      See, I'd like to agree with you there, but I can't, 'cause the judgement has been rushed to appeal to your disdain for capitalism, and so it ignores other aspects surrounding creative work and...

      See, I'd like to agree with you there, but I can't, 'cause the judgement has been rushed to appeal to your disdain for capitalism, and so it ignores other aspects surrounding creative work and receiving income for it.

      It's not about capitalism. It's not about being paid for work. It's not about being paid for creative work.

      If you can no longer have fun with projects because you automatically seek for RoI, that's not capitalism: that's your valuing money more than your well-being. Is it fueled by an atmosphere where valuing money is encouraged? Absolutely. Is getting money directly correlated to losing creativity? I don't have the data, but it had no effect on my experience.

      If I'm doing a gig, and I know I'm going to get paid when the work is done, I can't not be creative. Like, I've effectively already been paid; why would I do less than what I can deliver?

      "But you wrote a long-ass comment on how your chasing money killed your love for a project!" – no, I wrote a long-ass comment on how chasing something other than the joy of creation killed my love for a project. It just happened to be (partly) money, which I'd still like to make, thank you very much, because I don't make much at the moment. I would suffer the same loss if I were chasing public adoration (which was the other part of it), or appealing to a particular corporate entity (see: Oscar-baiting), or trying to fit into a genre I have no place in 'cause it's all the rage now (see: battle royale games)...

      The whole apocalyptic "capitalism is death" thing is overkill, don't you find?

      4 votes
      1. elcuello Link Parent
        I know I was being a little short sighted and rally-signish with that comment but I too am struggling with where the problem lies and what the solution could be. On top of that this isn't my first...

        I know I was being a little short sighted and rally-signish with that comment but I too am struggling with where the problem lies and what the solution could be. On top of that this isn't my first language so sometimes it's really difficult to express what I truly mean (combined with I don't always know what I truly mean).

        If you can no longer have fun with projects because you automatically seek for RoI, that's not capitalism: that's your valuing money more than your well-being. Is it fueled by an atmosphere where valuing money is encouraged? Absolutely. Is getting money directly correlated to losing creativity? I don't have the data, but it had no effect on my experience.

        I agree with you here but relying on people to have to lucidity, courage and will to completely disregard the value of money seems close to unachievable in a western world enthralled and swallowed up by capitalism. The correlation between money and creativity I don't find that interesting here partly because I like you don't have any data on it.

        The whole apocalyptic "capitalism is death" thing is overkill, don't you find?

        Actually I don't. I think it's the center of the majority of problems in the world right now and it's only going to get worse IMO. What I agree with here is how this message is being pushed. "Capitalism is death" is not way to go about it. We need to change the way we think about money or actually we need not to think about money.

        "But you wrote a long-ass comment on how your chasing money killed your love for a project!" – no, I wrote a long-ass comment on how chasing something other than the joy of creation killed my love for a project. It just happened to be (partly) money, which I'd still like to make, thank you very much, because I don't make much at the moment. I would suffer the same loss if I were chasing public adoration (which was the other part of it), or appealing to a particular corporate entity (see: Oscar-baiting), or trying to fit into a genre I have no place in 'cause it's all the rage now (see: battle royale games)...

        I believe you I just like playing with the idea that what if money played absolutely no role in it? I don't believe you will magically get all of your creativity back but I think it will change something fundamental. You joke about wanting to make some more money but the humor gets lost on me when I think about it on a deeper level because it just exemplifies how deeply rooted this notion is.

        4 votes
      2. alyaza Link Parent
        if i did, as someone who wants to write on the side, what i want to do under the current system, i'd make exactly zero dollars and zero cents, because my creativity is literally not judged to be...

        If you can no longer have fun with projects because you automatically seek for RoI, that's not capitalism: that's your valuing money more than your well-being. Is it fueled by an atmosphere where valuing money is encouraged? Absolutely. Is getting money directly correlated to losing creativity? I don't have the data, but it had no effect on my experience.

        if i did, as someone who wants to write on the side, what i want to do under the current system, i'd make exactly zero dollars and zero cents, because my creativity is literally not judged to be profitable by the moneyed class of society. this is a problem for a fuck ton of artists, writers, musicians, and other people who produce consumable media for the rest of us, actually: they literally are not able to actually do what they want or overstep certain bounds or explore certain subjects for the simple reason that it's not readily sellable to people, and you need money to be able to do a job like that in a capitalist system. it's not like you can just bullshit into existence marble statues or paintings or avant-garde dadaist literature, after all. you generally need someone who is willing to take that on and provide you either the social or political or financial or artistic capital necessary for your work to be produced and put out there to the masses. the internet at least has leveled out some of this, but like, realistically? most artists are still at the whims of what sells and not their genuine visions, because for your creativity to be sustainable as something you actually do for a living or even generally as a side gig, it needs to be profitable--or at least, you need to be in a position where you can live profitably. and that, ultimately, is an inevitable consequence of capitalism, whether you like it or not or agree that it should be that way or not.

        1 vote
      3. no_exit Link Parent
        hmmm it's almost as if under capitalism, one's well-being is strongly tied to their income

        that's your valuing money more than your well-being.

        hmmm it's almost as if under capitalism, one's well-being is strongly tied to their income

  5. JohnLeFou Link
    I see an interesting divide in this in the woodworking community. There are people who want it to be their real job, pros, and the retired folks that just find the fun. There are others, but for...

    I see an interesting divide in this in the woodworking community. There are people who want it to be their real job, pros, and the retired folks that just find the fun. There are others, but for this these three matter the most.

    Pros are getting undercut by passion players that are delighted if they break even, and they are undercut by the retired folks who are happy if they sold it, and then they are undercut by IKEA. There are a lot of intangibles when it comes to whether to pay such a high markup on something mass manufactured that is often good enough.

    6 votes
  6. [4]
    jprich (edited ) Link
    My god yes. The phrase "do what you love and it will never be a job" never rang true for me. I used to LOVE photography, I would drag a camera everywhere. However, my first run through college was...

    My god yes. The phrase "do what you love and it will never be a job" never rang true for me.

    I used to LOVE photography, I would drag a camera everywhere. However, my first run through college was costly and I started doing portraits for extra money ( my joy was nature and macro ). Soon it became "I need to do three shoots so I can buy books this trimester or get my marta pass" and it completely burned me out.

    I tell younger people now, find a job that pays well enough and you can tolerate it ( for me its IT ) and do what you love on the side.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      Micycle_the_Bichael Link Parent
      This. I'm not a software engineer because I'm passionate about it. I am at most indifferent to coding and I would rather do almost anything than code outside work hours. I work as a software...

      This. I'm not a software engineer because I'm passionate about it. I am at most indifferent to coding and I would rather do almost anything than code outside work hours. I work as a software engineer because my love of theoretical mathematics put me into CS classes and I realized one of those paths was going to pay bills and one wasn't. So here I am, a guy who codes from 7:45am-4:30 pm M-F to afford the ability to competitively box, make a stupid podcast with some friends about film, and go to hockey and baseball games. I'm going to try and dig up the post I saw a while ago about how Americans define themselves primarily by their career and that's not the case as much in other parts of the world. I'm working on improving my mindset with that and trying to convince other people to at least consider that viewpoint without pushing my ideals on them.

      1. [2]
        jprich Link Parent
        Exactly, I dont love IT I just sort of fell into it after leaving college the first time. Burned out on it too and jumped around jobs for a few years and when my wife and I were trying to figure...

        Exactly, I dont love IT I just sort of fell into it after leaving college the first time.

        Burned out on it too and jumped around jobs for a few years and when my wife and I were trying to figure out what I should do after a layoff we settled on IT because it was the largest chunk of my employment history.

        It pays well enough that once I bang down my student loans I will be living the life you described.

        Hell, Ive started writing and genuinely enjoy the hell out of it. People that know about it are asking if I'm going to get it published and are surprised when I say probably not. I mean I will publish it digitally and charge next to nothing for it but Id rather make something that someone enjoys than beat myself to death trying to monetize it.

        1 vote
        1. Micycle_the_Bichael Link Parent
          I know there is a stigma around it because society loves to shit on anything teenage girls like and the target demographic for it is mostly women, but I respect the living fuck out of fanfic...

          I know there is a stigma around it because society loves to shit on anything teenage girls like and the target demographic for it is mostly women, but I respect the living fuck out of fanfic authors. There are a lot of fics out there that are as long as Dune or Stephen King novels, and are REALLY WELL WRITTEN too! And they all write their stories because they want to write the stories and think about what would happen in various alternate universes. Sometimes the stories are SO FAR from the source material (or real life if they are based on real people) that they pretty much only share appearance (not even always that) and names. Change the names and you'd have completely unique stories that can stand on their own. It is dope as hell that they have the passion to write them out and put them out there for people to enjoy for free.

          2 votes