” Educating The Public “

Or ” How I learned to justify my hobby by pretending it was educational “.

I am a hobbyist. At any one time I am deeply engaged in some expensive pursuit that does nothing whatever for the rest of mankind…but pleases me thoroughly. It has been model boats, ships, cars, old-fashioned firearms, dress-ups, studio photography…etc, etc, etc. No money has been made through these activities but no-one has died, either. I have largely been kept off the streets and the local retailers have benefitted.

The various activities have always been designed to please me – and to some extent have done so – and haven’t been too injurious to the environment. They have been – in the words of the philosopher ” innocent enjoyment “. That should be the whole of it…but people being who they are, this is rarely satisfactory…we are constantly trying to justify our fun by pretending that it is educational for the public. Here’s the flaws in that:

a. It isn’t. Watching you run a toy train through a plaster landscape doesn’t make anyone smarter…unless they were primed beforehand to see a specific detail of your layout. You cannot preach to the congregation – only to the choir.

b. The general public is fed on the production of the television and at the lowest pressure of that, as it is. You cannot compete on any level of stupidity with ” Big Brother” or ” Celebrity Chef ” no matter how low you sink. Do not try.

c. Your presentation of anything is a secondhand, thirdhand, or hired hand performance. What you learned from a book – flawed as it was – will become worse when you do it. You Are essentially inbreeding information that will not improve the species.

d. The public doesn’t participate in the benefit of what you do…and there is a real, real benefit for you. They also do not participate in the expense. They are just there to jeer, and you are generally not allowed to insult back – they are the great public, after all. You can be on a hiding to nothing from the start.

So. So what to do? How do you justify your hobby?

You don’t. You tell the truth to yourself – it is a study for yourself – an intellectual pursuit – a game -a collection or workshop or encampment for you alone. You will pay for it, do it, learn from it, not learn from it, or be disgusted by it in turn. Do not try to hang anything on anyone else – good or bad. Just do it for you. You’ll appreciate it all the more.

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