I Need a Hobby

Personal blogging is something I’ve tried to avoid since starting this blog back in 2009. For one thing, there’s nothing about me or my daily life that’s worth sharing or gives me some unique insight on a subject. That’s not true of all personal blogs – a friend of mine blogs on her experiences coping with mental health problems, giving a unique insight and being a really damn good writer while doing it. For me, however, I’m fortunate enough not to experience any uncommon hardships. Which makes for a comfortable life in every other aspect but gives me scant material as a writer. So I avoid personal blogging.

That being said, writing something has always been a good way for me to get my thoughts in order. Having to justify an idea crystallises how you feel about something. That can either bring what you already think into sharper focus or it can reveal it to be completely wrong. For the last year or so, I’ve been reviewing Doctor Who spin-off audios for Blogtor Who. Doing that, I often find that my initial reaction to something can shift drastically when I have to explain why something did or didn’t work for me. Conversely, this is why Twitter is a really shitty place to gauge people’s reactions on new episodes of Sherlock.

Completely unrelated photo of Sherlock, but it’s why you clicked the link. Isn’t it?

So what’s the point I’m skirting around? Only that sometimes I can justify writing personal blog posts if I spend two paragraphs beforehand explaining why I don’t think I’m interesting enough to do this on the regular. Anyhoo…

While 2016 was a shitty year for everyone in the general sense, for me personally it was a mixed bag. Luckily, I reached my lowest point ever in January and everything after that was a step up. I’m not going to dwell on all the negative stuff that happened, or even the good stuff, because the only parts of it that matter for this post is how it affects my future.

Specifically, I gave up trying to become a journalist. I’d been trying to get into the industry professionally since leaving University, to the detriment of pretty much everything else in my life. In particular, my actual job. That became a problem in early 2016 and, without any conscious thought, I simply stopped trying. At least, I’ve stopped trying to get into it as a career and accepted it something I’ll only ever do as a freelance hobby. Much as I resisted letting myself give up during the three intervening years, the drive to be a tech journalist ultimately fell away on its own.

But where does that leave me? What do I write about now? I started this blog to write tech news but drifted off to other places once people started paying me to do it for them instead. I could continue to write about tech here but it feels like the entire consumer tech industry has moved away from the stuff I was interested in before. Smartphones are just anonymous slabs of metal and plastic with no particular innovation. Wearable tech was a dud (as was my short-lived wearable tech blog Toasterfez). Tech innovation these days is all happening in apps, which are as inscrutable as they are changeable. A review of Uber is not going to talk about the usability of the interface, since they can be changed quicker than the review can be written and makes previous reviews obsolete. The story is much more likely to be handled by your typical boots-on-the-ground journo than a dedicated gadget writer. I am the latter.

It feels like the role of technology correspondent shifted into the realm of being a more general journalist. As technology has infiltrated every aspect of people’s lives, tech news outlets have wisely spread their reach too. Whilst most are still a long way from becoming a general news source, they report on this sort of nerd-culture elseworld. A website that previously wrote only about gadgets will now post about a new Netflix series, the executive hiring decisions at Apple, rumours about the next Star Wars film. It’s natural for these sites to make such a move but it leaves me, who has always been laser-focused on tech and less on being a journalist in the more general sense, struggling to adapt.

Not that I’m incapable of producing this kind of content. I can and have done it. As well as my Doctor Who audio reviews, I’ve been writing listicles sporadically for WhatCulture. But since that site’s technology coverage is virtually nonexistent my focus has been on Doctor Who and Sherlock. But there’s only so much you can squeeze out of these two shows, even for a super-nerd like me, and my TV preferences are too narrow to blog about the subject in general. It’s hard to give an informed opinion on contemporary TV when you’ve never seen an episode of The Great British Bake Off.

So what else could I blog about?

Politics? Oh, hell no.

Sci-fi? Though I have a decent knowledge of the subject and the motivation to learn more, it’s too wide a field to blog about. Even if I limited myself to just new releases in sci-fi I’d still be reading constantly and writing almost never.

Doctor Who? Too narrow a field and the fandom is too belligerent and angry (especially at the moment, for some reason) for me to want to stick my thoughts into that bubbling cauldron of vitriol.

Welp, that’s about the full scope of my interests.

I need a hobby.