Is Hifi a hobby or an addiction?

I would describe Hifi as my hobby. But truly there are times when it seems to be more than that. I hesitate to use the word addiction because I would never wish to trivialise the serious harm that can be caused by addiction to drugs, alcohol and other substances.

But calling Hifi a hobby really doesn’t cut it for me. It is certainly capable of inducing compulsive behaviours such as deciding that I really must have a particular component when the evidence that it will enhance my system let alone my life is limited to say the least. It’s also capable of inducing an emotional high or alternatively changing my mood when I feel angry or melancholic.

One of my strategies in life when I feel angry is to play a track such as Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple very loudly. If I express my anger through imagining shouting very loudly and the volume of the music exceeds the volume of my imaginary outburst, it serves to dissipate my anger and has a calming effect. In case you’re wondering, yes I do live on my own in a detached property!

In terms of emotional impact, my hi-fi acts literally as an emotional amplifier. Whilst the music provides the basic emotion-inducing response, the effect is amplified by the system, and the better the system the greater the impact.

I have never taken illegal drugs but I recall when I was admitted to hospital with kidney stones I was administered morphine for the pain that I found the effect to be quite extraordinary. It gave me some insight into the ability of opioid drugs to induce extraordinary feelings and euphoria. I could also imagine that one could quickly become dependent on such substances in other circumstances.

The emotional high which a Hifi system can induce also has the ability to take you out of your current state of mind and situation. When the music played has additional power due to association with an emotional event, such as a wedding or a funeral this effect is further enhanced.

This can be helpful when one is feeling low, and the experience is often a positive and enjoyable one. However, it brings the danger of chasing the next emotional high to reproduce this joy in a manner analogous to a drug addict seeking their next fix. Just as there are people who can function effectively at least for a period of time with a drug or alcohol addiction, so providing the behaviours that your search for the next emotional fix induces are manageable if they are within your resources and this may be harmless enough. 

However, if the desire forces you into unwise spending or is thwarted by the recognition that the next upgrade is simply unaffordable then the potential for harm is greater.

The byline from gambling advertisements is apposite. When the fun stops, stop!

Leave a comment