Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Stop monetizing my fun

Some life experiences shouldn’t be associated with profit
Kalina Kornacki

Last week, millions of people gathered to watch the solar eclipse that passed through a large portion of the United States. About 32 million people in the U.S. lived in the totality zone, with Amherst reaching about 95 percent totality.

The eclipse was a moment of connection across the U.S., as people joined to experience this event together, or so it seemed. Clearly, not everyone seemed viewed the solar eclipse as a grand natural event worthy of awe.

The morning after the eclipse, I came across a statistic that was apparently making the rounds, citing that the event could cost employers a total of $694 million. Although Forbes later pointed out that it would lead to an economic boost in totality zones due to tourism, seeing a fun part of the human experience measured in terms of financial loss left a sour taste in my mouth.

According to the American Psychological Association, stress levels are rising in the United States with finances being the biggest focus. People are becoming more concerned about money, and this concern is worsened by what I believe is a push towards profit measuring –– looking at everything in dollars and cents. Third spaces are disappearing as more and more people turn towards side gigs to bring in additional income.

Earning a living is taking up more of people’s free time and every fun experience or hobby is now forcibly associated with a cost. But the world is not meant to function this way. There must be life experiences that are not associated with a profit margin.

In a previous Daily Collegian piece, Columnist Katherine Varrell explains that third places are becoming less and less common, raising costs of living. Moments of entertainment, like finding a fun activity to do with a friend or going to work out, come at a cost without third places. Fun time becomes something to include in monthly budgeting, as nothing feels free anymore.

The feeling of urgency surrounding third places comes from the idea of productivity, if you’re just hanging out with friends in a park or cafe, what are you really achieving? Never mind that such socializing is an integral part of the human experience; the lack of productivity and even potential costs associated with spending money at a social gathering scares people away. They end up avoiding these places as a result, increasing isolation and stress levels.

The productivity stress weighs even further into people’s hobbies as more people are encouraged to turn things they love into a career. Although finding passion in your career is a good thing, focusing all your interests on profit can go wrong.

In a Vox article, Marian Bull describes the cons of monetizing a hobby, as leisure suddenly turns into labor. Ceramics, a hobby she took up to lower her stress, ended up becoming her entire career, wearing down some of the enjoyment she took in it. Things she now makes aren’t about improving her craft nor making things she wants, but making whatever her audience will enjoy. It has become entirely about the money, and although she enjoys it, it is still work that is held down by the pressure to perform and gain revenue.

While productivity and monetization can bring amazing results in people’s careers, too much of it can take a toll on the mind. There needs to be a level of sacredness to fun, something that is untouched by the words profit margin or money. Something that exists just for the sake of enjoyment. Not everything we do has to be productive or contribute to the economy, so perhaps it’s fair not to factor profit into pastimes.

When I watched the eclipse, I never thought about the amount of people that weren’t typing on their computers, serving tables nor building high rises to watch it. I thought about the insane rarity of the moment, not only because we were watching the moon cover the sun, but because people all around me were together and connected. Not everything should be measured by a profit margin. Some things need to be measured by joy.

Lily Fitzgerald can be reached at [email protected].

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