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We need more glue in our hobby ...

Podcasts by VK6FLAB - 0 sec ago
Foundations of Amateur Radio

Since December 2010 I've been licensed as a radio amateur. For some this seems like a long time ago, for others, it's just the beginning. In my time thus far I've attempted to document and describe my journey and in doing so, I've had the unbeatable pleasure of hearing stories from others who were inspired by my efforts to join, or rejoin the hobby.

It occurred to me that it's hard to tell when you look at any one amateur if the ink on their licence is still wet, or if the whole certificate is faded and yellowed with time.

You also cannot tell by looking if one amateur turns on their gear in the car during the daily commute, or if they go out on expeditions to remote locations twice a year.

The callsign a person holds tells you even less, let alone the class of their license.

In our community we talk about mentoring and we call such people Elmers, but do we really use this as a way to glue together our hobby as its namesake might suggest?

As a result of my profile, there's a steady stream of commentary about what I do and how I do it. As you might expect, there's both good and bad, sometimes describing the same thing from opposite sides in equally heated terms.

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that playing the man and not the ball will get you completely ignored. If however you have a specific grievance with any technical aspect of what I'm contributing, by all means let me know, but be prepared to provide references because it might come as a surprise, I do research before I open my mouth. That's not to say that I don't make mistakes, I'm sure I do and have.

Before this turns into a self congratulatory oration, I'd like to point out that all the negative feedback I see all around me does nothing to grow our hobby, does nothing to encourage learning, does nothing to reward trial and error and it doesn't contribute to society at large in any way.

I'm mentioning this because I also receive emails from amateurs who have left the community, not because of lack of interest, but because of the bullying that they've experienced.

I know that there are several local activities that I avoid because it's just not fun to bump into people who are friendly to your face whilst being vicious online.

It continues to amaze me that this topic keeps recurring and that it keeps needing to be called out. One thing I can tell you is that ignoring it doesn't work. I've described previously what you should do instead when you're the subject of such petulant behaviour, but it bears repeating. Say it out loud.

"Thank you for your comment. I don't believe that it's in the spirit of amateur radio. Please stop."

Feel free to use that phrase anytime someone in this hobby makes you feel uncomfortable.

One final observation. If you've not personally experienced this behaviour that's great, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't happen or that it's not endemic. Consider for a moment how you'd feel if you were attacked whilst being active in a hobby you love, for no other reason than that the person attacking you didn't like the wire you were using to construct a dipole or some other equally outrageous reason like your gender, sexual orientation, license class, choice of radio or preferred on-air activity.

Say it with me:

"Thank you for your comment. I don't believe that it's in the spirit of amateur radio. Please stop."

I'm Onno VK6FLAB

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