The Gift and Curse of the Internet

Probably the greatest impact on hobbies has come from the internet.  It has been the greatest gift, and probably the greatest curse.  I don’t say that lightly, but I stand behind it.

The Gift

There is no other way to get so much information about hobbies.  There are so many websites, boards, images, and videos.  In the old days we were constrained to magazines, fairs, and people who hung around the hobby shop.  If I ask a question on some of the boards I belong to, within minutes I get a reply and often some photos illustrating the point perfectly.

This blog and hundreds like it owe themselves to the internet.  The two or three people who read this could only get it from the net.  It has given me a place to express myself, and I am enjoying it.

The Curse

There is probably too much information and diversity of opinion.  It can be overwhelming.  I love to research hobbies, but I can spend months learning about something before I feel confident to walk into the shop and make a purchase.  I can spend hours procrastinating and neglecting things (housework, lesson preparation, etc.)
The Gift

There are some huge hobby shops online which can cater to all my needs.  I can find products and have them sent to me within days or weeks which my take months, or might never be available at my local hobby shop.

The Curse

All of these great deals come at the expense of the local hobby shop.   I am certainly guilty of this.  I have scoured for the best deal, and bypassed my local store.  I comforted myself with the confidence of any consumer.  However, a little part of me says that we need to support the local person, especially because that is how I got into a lot of my hobbies.  They are probably struggling, and could easily go out of business.

The Gift

I don’t have to endlessly search through magazines looking for an article or inspiration.  It is there at the click of the mouse.  I also don’t have to pay for them, or trudge down to my library to read them (even though I still do, and would consider buying complete CD versions of some of my favourite magazines.)

The Curse

Not only have those magazines scaled back production or disappeared completely, but the sense of anticipation is gone.  I eagerly looked forward to the day my magazines would come out.  I often made it a special event to peruse my magazine sitting in my favourite chair, with a cup of hot chocolate (who’s kidding who, I was drinking a beer, but I think the imagery of my first idea is better).

The Gift

It is easy to find people interested in the same hobby, and with the relative anonymity of the keyboard, any shyness you feel can be overcome.

The Curse

Actually, I have to say that in this case, there is only win.  I have enjoyed messaging with people on various model and train boards.  They have been friendly (and sometimes quite humorous) with their advice.

The Gift

Some YouTube videos have given me a view into a hobby I could not get elsewhere.  I have watched many great model builders put together award winning models.  I have learned great tennis exercises to strengthen my sore shoulder.  I have seen people unbox their products, so I knew exactly what came with hobby kits they bought. 

The Curse

I probably spend too much time on YouTube and have lost some precious sleep.  A small price to pay, but when I find it hard to drag my sorry self out of bed on a cold weekday morning (or any morning for that matter–I am decidedly a night person) I wonder if it was worth it. 
If I have forgotten anything, or should consider something else, please feel free to comment.
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