Defending the Hobby

It’s probably pretty obvious if you are looking at my blog, but in case it isn’t: I like to collect LEGO. I’ve collected many things over the years: stamps, postcards, Magic: The Gathering cards, Pathfinder roleplaying game books, teddy bears, Legolas figurines… I’ve come to accept that I just have a packrat kind of personality that longs to hoard things.

There’s one thing I’ve come across since starting to collect LEGO that I didn’t notice with my other collections (or perhaps I simply didn’t talk about them much) is the tendency of people to ask ‘Do you play with it?’ And every time I get asked that, I am still surprised and don’t know what to say.

If I had said, ‘I collect stamps,’ I doubt I would have received the same response. In my attempts to understand the response to my LEGO collecting, I have thought that perhaps the people that ask this question don’t collect things at all, and therefore are genuinely confused by my collecting of what is generally considered to be a child’s toy. My other thought is that maybe they imagine me, at nearly 30 years old, sitting at home and playing with my LEGO as I did when I was a child.

Perhaps my confusion comes from the fact that I don’t really like to ‘play’ with LEGO (or, at least, what I consider to qualify as ‘playing’ with it – essentially what the little kid in the LEGO Movie was doing), but I do like to build LEGO sets. I love how the LEGO engineers come up with ingenious ways to combine the bricks into a car or house or ship. So I build sets and display them. I’m extra passionate about minifigures, but even there, I like to put them together as intended and display them. Again, I think this is related to my personality type; for instance, my remaining Magic cards are still alphebetised and stored neatly in folders, and I don’t particularly enjoy building houses in The Sims when I can download pre-built buildings created by people with much more imagination in that regard.

I think my main issue with being asked whether I play with the LEGO I collect is that I feel like I have to defend my hobby. I think this builds on a lifetime of feeling like I have to defend my geeky interests, whether they involve collecting ‘toys’ or cards or watching different movies from the ones my friends like, or not being interested in hair, makeup or clothes. Heck, I still often find myself being questioned on why I don’t drink alcohol, or why I won’t eat certain foods. Fortunately, I’m finally confident enough (in that area, at least!) that I no longer feel I have to defend those choices.

So perhaps my annoyance at having my hobbies questioned comes from me, and the people asking the questions are just genuinely curious. That doesn’t mean I still don’t feel some annoyance. I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences with sharing geeky interests with non-geeks.

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