An excerpt from one of my e-mails from a reader:
I will not forget how excited I was to work a few new countries only to be belittled at the local DX Club meeting about how common and insignificant my QSO’s were. This message coming from guys at the top of the honor role. If we want the hobby to continue well into the future we need to encourage and applaud rather than trivialize.
I would suggest that this is not an isolated instance, though not just about DX’ing and Honor Roll members. I remember the first meeting I went to at my local club — and was totally ignored. I went to the meetings four different times and almost gave up on joining a club — a club that I went on to be President of later in my ham career.
The strength of our hobby is the diversity of activities that we can do as part of the hobby. Whether it is public service policy, digital modes, contesting or DX’ing, we can learn something new, become an expert in that area, get bored and move on to learning something new — all in the same hobby.
Yet, too often, the experts in that sub-segment of the hobby trivialize where that person is at, trying to learn a new area of the hobby, with their learning curve. I’ve seen it in DX’ing, contesting — and even heard quite often that you won’t be a “real” ham until you learn Morse Code. Right.
And I’m not being purist here; I’ve done this type of trivialization over the course of my 24-year ham career.
This behavior does not encourage people to join our hobby. We intentionally or unintentionally become exclusionary. We don’t, as my reader notes in the e-mail, “applaud” the accomplishment.
My first contact as a ham was on Morse Code with a ham in California. I don’t remember the call. But I remember the event. As a teenager, I had worked long and hard to get a radio, antenna and accessories to get to the point of getting on the air. All the magazines I read said the most important thing to do was get on the air and start making contacts. So I did. When I first heard my call coming back to me out of the ether, I was pumped. And nervous. The ham was most gracious on being part of my first contact.
Yet, imagine that same contact where the ham would have instead trivialized what I had done. First contacts are nothing…wait until you get to 10,000. Your Morse Code is crappy…didn’t you learn how to send?
Makes you want to crawl into a hole and die. Or, at least sheepishly walk away from the hobby. Or, tell the person to get a life and tell them to shove it and then walk away from the hobby.
Yet, we callously condemn fellow hams who came in the hobby with a no-code license as not being “real hams.” Or trivialize working Germany (the first ham radio contact I ever heard was with a US ham using Morse Code to talk to a ham in Germany — and I was astonished at the thought as a non-ham) as being “garden-variety” DX. Or condemn fellow contesters for not knowing the exchange.
When you are learning something new, no one is perfect. And to berate someone for their imperfection trivializes the work they are doing to become proficient at what they are doing in the hobby. We should be teaching and applauding the effort because life is about learning.
As my Elmer once told me, “every country is hard to get until you work and confirm it. Then, of course, it’s a piece of cake.”
Are you trivializing the work of fellow hams?