It’s just a simple hobby right? Something to relax you, a fun little project to while away the hours. Well I got news for you Jack. Look deeper and you’ll find the stinking, seething dark side of your precious pastime. 

Houseplant Heists

 

“Let’s just swing by Lowe’s real quick and pick up a plant” “You know what? A couple golden pothos would really tie this breakfast nook together” “Meet me under the bridge, I’ve got the three grand. Leave the hoya carnosa in an unmarked brown paper bag, and I’ll toss the cash over.” Becoming a *shudder* plant parent, is a slippery slope. Plant ownership is in a boom phase and folks are using their hard earned green to bring the outdoors, in. The houseplant industry is growing and sprouting black markets of its own. A South Korean man was arrested in 2019 for attempting to smuggle thousands of dudleya succulent plants he’d stolen from California national and state parks out of the country. The plan was to sell them to industrial greenhouses, grow them bigger, throw that sh*t in some artisanal glazed ceramic, and sell the rare plants on the international market for a massive markup. It didn’t help his sentencing that the guy was already wanted internationally for stealing hundred year old ecological cornerstone plants from South Africa. Obviously most of the plant stealers out there aren’t James Bond level thieves, but even the mundane ones harm delicate ecosystems. 

Surfing Bigots

 

It’s more “bruh” than “shaka” in the surprisingly mean community of surfing. Not everyone who catches waves is nasty of course, but the enclaves of surfers on notorious beaches are infamous for their cruelty. Jealously guarding the waves and trying to hoard the ocean all to themselves… hey, these guys sound a lot like the evil dragons from Magic: The Gathering actually… Gatekeeping in the surfing world is at an extreme, with racism and sexism mirroring the assholer-y in our current stupid hellscape of a society. Plus, choice surfing spots can really get tight if you’re bad at sharing, and that breeds a toxic environment. The sport’s roots lie in Hawaiian religious rituals and there’s evidence that people have been surfing for thousands of years… so, chill out y’all. It’s the damn ocean, calm down, there’s room for everybody.

Record Collecting Gatekeepers

 
Do you even like music or do you just hate poor people?

Ahhh, music. The great unifier. Nothing makes you feel more seen, more appreciated as a human being, more one with the great truths of existence than listening to classic jazz or vintage rock. Or any kind of music that speaks to you. But apparently some people think that experiencing the magic melodies of music isn’t for everyone. The gatekeeping in the vinyl community is daunting to cut through. For the self-righteous, self-proclaimed “real collectors”, paying top dollar seems to trump whatever esoteric value you can put on art. The most expensive first pressings of records can sell for almost a million dollars, but the market is volatile and hard to follow for folks on the outside. New printings can change the prices of previously hard to find records overnight; and that sends these gatekeeping dorks into a tizzy. Hey, maybe someone just wanted to enjoy an album ok? Snobs ruining a cool hobby sucks for everyone. 

Magic: The Gathering Thieves

 

Jocks get a bad rap for being bullies, but anyone who’s ever faced down a feral nerd knows that being shoved in a locker is preferable to having a know it all shut you down. Magic: The Gathering is an epic trading card game with a passionate fanbase. But it’s an expensive hobby and like so many communities involving swole dragons and busty elves, it’s littered with bad actors. The prices of Magic cards vary wildly. Recently printed common rarity cards go for pennies, while cards from the game’s first printings in 1993 go for tens of thousands of dollars. Serious players will easily amass thousands and thousands of cards and trot out their fancy collections to ogle, swap, and play at tournaments around the world. And just like the dangerous fantasy worlds the game takes place in, those tournaments are full of thieves and greedy goblins looking to take everything for themselves. It’s all too common to have a deck stolen from a convention or competition. Seeing a tearful eleven year old come up to you and tell you they’ve had their Ulamog stolen has surely weighed heavy on the hearts of many a game organizer. There’s also a heavy market for “proxy” cards, knock-offs of the officially published Wizards of the Coast product. But like we said, some cards in the game cost tens of thousands of dollars. So can you really blame someone for daring to build a deck with a Black Lotus proxy? That card costs upwards of five hundred thousand dollars now.  

 

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