It’s often been said that amateur radio is a hobby consisting of many sub-hobbies. This is true when you consider the different modes we use (like RTTY, CW, PSK), technical endeavors like equipment design and building, special operating techniques like satellite and moonbounce, different bands each with their own characteristics and fans like LF, HF, VHF/UHF, and microwave, and activity based sub-hobbies like contesting and DXing. It’s multidimensional and there is often overlap between the various sub-hobbies.
Unfortunately there’s a detrimental sub-hobby that’s been around a long time, perhaps as far back as when there was spark and a new mode called CW was emerging. It’s complaining about what everyone else is doing or how they’re doing it.
I was reminded of this on an unnamed social networking site that starts with the letter F and rhymes with the word crook. Perhaps you’ve been there. A poster in an amateur radio group couldn’t make sense out of people sending and receiving CW using computers, and quipped that operating this way was taking the “radio out of radio”. Never mind that you can’t do this sort of operating without a radio. The most vocal complainers in amateur radio tend to rant about amateurs who don’t operate CW, so it was ironic that this complaint was about people actually operating CW but not in a way that the poster and others like to do it. As expected, the discussion was lively with many people lamenting over this operating method, and a lesser few defending it.
Any time I look an amateur radio activity, I ask a few basic questions:
- Is someone getting enjoyment out of it?
- Is it not harming anyone else and not detracting from anyone’s enjoyment of the hobby?
- Does it positively reflect amateur radio, both within the amateur radio community and the general public, or at least not reflect negatively on the hobby?
- Is it spectrally and resource efficient, and reasonable from an engineering perspective?
- Is it consistent with the spirit and nature of amateur radio?
If you can answer YES to all of these questions, I see no reason to complain about the activity.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years about amateur radio, it’s that if you’re more concerned about what others are doing, and not what you’re doing, and having fun doing it, it’s a sure fire way to be unhappy in amateur radio.