We’ve probably all fallen for it. Binge-watch enough Chef’s Table on Netflix and find ourselves shopping for cast-iron skillets. Start jogging and the accessories pile up – a water bottle today, sneakers tomorrow, and eventually an armband and pedometer.
Our homes are filled with detritus of past fancies: maybe a sleeping bag from your trekking phase, a book on veganism, craft tools.
The idea of buying shiny new equipment and accessories in the hopes of pursuing a new hobby, then not seeing any of it through, is so common there’s even a term for it, with a very appropriate abbreviation: gear acquisition syndrome (GAS).
With higher disposable incomes and fewer responsibilities than earlier generations (as people marry later, buy homes later or not at all), there’s more time, mindspace and money available for leisure and for hobbies. The thing about hobbies is that they take patience and effort. With gear acquisition syndrome, purchases replace the patience and effort and, in the first rush of enthusiasm, equipment is acquired.
The internet makes it worse. It’s where newbies run into pros on message boards, where e-commerce algorithms present every budget range – so people end up buying what they can afford, but don’t really need.
Buying the gear for a new activity may give a high. But psychiatrist Dr Dayal Mirchandani says it probably won’t last. “Last year’s things won’t be good enough,” he says.
Ritika Aggarwal Mehta, consultant psychologist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre says most buying is triggered because it seems like the easiest way to start. “We tend to look for the quick fix, which in this case is possessing the tools,” she says. “But one requires skill to use that gear well”.
It’s easier, she adds. to move on to the next fancy; the next piece of gear.
Collecting new gear and avoiding pursuing the hobby itself also stems from fear of failing. “These feelings of fear and inadequacy could increase over time, affecting one’s self-esteem,” says Mehta.