I’m writing this in the context of my three main lifelong hobbies: cars, photography, and PC gaming*. Why do enthusiasts have to ruin everything about what they love?
*this rant also applies to fashion enthusiasts, audio enthusiasts, gardeners, woodworkers, and just about anybody who take their hobby one step too far.
Let’s start with PC gaming, my first hobby. You know what’s not expensive and difficult? A console. Nintendo, Playstation, Xbox: all fine options and each one costs less than a decent video card. But nooooooo, I have to have the best graphics and the most configuration options. I can’t enjoy a game unless there are at least 14 different anti-aliasing options, each with its own inscrutable acronym. So I build my own PC. I spend months researching parts and making sure they are compatible with each other and with the software I plan to run. I order all the parts and wait weeks for the last part to show up before I can start the fun fun fun process of putting the thing together. Then I get to worry about destroying one of these expensive items with a tiny bit of static electricity while I cram my hands into tiny spaces and hope I didn’t plug anything in backwards or *gasp* apply thermal paste using a less-than-optimal technique. You know, FUN? Meanwhile, the console gamers have beaten 3 Final Fantasies and even waited out the release of a new Gran Turismo.
How about photography? Why use my phone camera or a point and shoot or a super-zoom when I could instead buy a bunch of ancient film cameras and manual-focus lenses and then not only develop the film but get it scanned because this is the 21st century and we only look at things on computer screens now? Ok, maybe you’re the reasonable type and you’re not going to mess around with film, but you’re going to get a DSLR. Now you get to haul 20 lbs worth of gear just to go to the grocery store, because you never know when a great photograph will present itself. Ok, fine, you’re a smart one, so you get a mirrorless camera and some nice, tiny lenses to go with it. You’re living the dream now, aren’t you? Why don’t you come to a car meet and take some photos? Oh, you’re updating the firmware on your camera, I see. Nope, you’re updating the firmware on your LENS!? Jesus Christ, why did I even invite you?
And now, for the worst person of all: the car enthusiast. You know what the perfect car is? A Honda Accord. It’s even fun to drive. But what does the car enthusiast want? Excitement! Speed! Alfa Romeo! We (car enthusiasts) choose manual over automatic, we choose old over new, we choose small and light over big and comfortable, we choose “character” over reliability. That’s why we give such bad advice to the “normals.” My first car was reliable and cheap to run, and my second car was too. Then I started to get enthusiastic. My next car had two doors for less practicality, but it was doomed from the start because it was an automatic. Next, I moved to a manual trans, awd, foor door, which was perfect in every way. Except for staying in one piece, which it was bad at. My latest car has foor doors and a big trunk, but to make up for that I needed to make sure it was loud and got really bad gas mileage. Also, it had to have a giant wing to make sure nobody takes me too seriously. Meanwhile, my wife has had the same car for 9 years and 104,000 miles from new and she’s perfectly happy. Seriously, I think she likes her car more than I’ve ever liked any of my cars. It’s had less than $2,000 worth of repairs and maintenance over those 9 years and has been paid off for more than half of that. What the hell is wrong with me, us, car enthusiasts?
As Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I-, I took the one covered in broken glass and excrement, barefoot.” Or something like that. Enthusiasm is a disease, sure, but I don’t think I want the cure.