Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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I am envious sometimes of people who are able to narrow down their interests to a specific scope, it’s kind of like a lot of their decisions are made easier. Consider a person whose only hobby/interest is something like sports (not necessarily all sports, or just one sport, just sports in general).

  • looking for something to do in your spare time? Sports!
  • want to watch something on TV? Sports!
  • picking up a newspaper, but don’t have much time to read? Sports section!
  • need a small talk topic? Sports!
  • do your social media posts have a focused topic? Sports!
  • want to start a blog/podcast/youtube channel and need a topic? Sports!
  • giving a TED talk? Sports!
  • want to write a book? Sports!
  • want to learn something new? Find a new sport!
  • need an advocacy? Find something related to sports!
  • want to play video games? Sports games!

(“Sports” is just an example, it might as well be “arts and crafts” or “birdwatching” or something else.)

Compare that with someone like myself, who has like a bajillion hobbies/interests, if I needed to think about things like the above, I would have to choose among topics like (in no particular order, and non extensive):

  • software development (this already covers a lot of subtopics by itself!)
  • the tech industry
  • startups/entrepreneurship
  • general science/advances in science
  • gaming (pc, console, handheld, boardgames, esports)
  • game design/development
  • magic the gathering
  • books (sci-fi, fantasy)
  • comics (marvel, dc, manga, webcomics, etc)
  • writing
  • art/drawing/sketching
  • politics/current events
  • jokes/puns
  • blogging
  • myths and legends/history
  • internet subculture/memes/shitposting
  • trivia
  • self-improvement/productivity/optimization
  • general pop/geek culture (movies/tv)

The wide variety of interests makes it more difficult to stay focused on and specialize in a particular niche. This blog is a great example: it’s not the sort of thing that is difficult to monetize or focus into a large audience because I tend to write about a lot of things and no one thing in particular. I’ve tried spinning off separate blogs that focus on particular topics only: I’ve started an MtG-focused blog and a comic-book focused blog. I can put in the effort for these things because I do have interest, but because of the wide variety of interests, my focus on each one inevitably waxes and wanes, and when I look away from those particular niches to focus on other things for a while, those blogs suffer and eventually die.

I was thinking about this because the other day I was trying to sort/arrange my RSS feeds and I was like “Why am I following so many damn feeds?” and the answer was of course because I’m interested in so many things. I like reading things, but I also can’t read everything!

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing (or necessarily better or worse than a life with more focused interests!). But at best it’s a double-edged sword. It is difficult to find focus true, and one tends to jump from topic to topic at a moment’s notice. But there are a lot of perks as well. Life is almost always interesting, there is very little downtime, unless you choose it. There is always some event, some convention, some announcement, some new release to look forward to. Life is short and there is so much of it to appreciate and enjoy that for me personally it would feel like a waste to be so narrowly-focused. The world is huge and there is so much of it to embrace that it seems a shame to stay in one tiny corner of it for all your life.

I guess I will kind of just lean into it and enjoy the chaos it brings to life!

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Roy Tang is a:

roytang.net is a personal site, an E/N site, and kind of a commonplace book; I post about a random assortment of topics that interest me including software development, Magic the Gathering, pop culture, gaming, and tech life. This site is perpetually under renovation.