A Culture of Connection

“Grandpa Listening in on the Wireless,” by Norman Rockwell

Although most of what we read about in ham radio literature is heavily weighted toward the technical side of things, it doesn’t paint the whole picture. Amateur radio, at its core, is a social activity. And unlike some hobbies, like woodworking or painting, ham radio actually requires others to participate – to not only make it interesting, but to make it possible.

For over a hundred years, hams have utilized technology and harnessed natural phenomena, such as the ionosphere, to communicate with one another over long distances, and one of the first things a ham realizes is that the world isn’t quite as large as he or she once thought it was.

The Russian novelist, Mihail Sholokhov once said that “Vast sections of the world’s population are inspired by the same desires and live for common interests that bind them together far more than they separate them.”

What becomes apparent after only a few radio contacts, is that often that distance between two sides of a QSO becomes nil. No matter who you connect with on the airwaves, hams have at least one thing in common, and that’s the hobby itself. It’s the starting point, and from there, conversations often shift to other areas of interest, such as sports, other hobbies, current projects, family, occupations, and more.

After reading about all the people suffering the ill effects of staying away from each other and foregoing social activities over the past several months, due to the lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions that we’ve had to endure, I started thinking about how lucky hams are to always have someone to talk to, despite the fact that we also couldn’t do some of the activities that we normally do.

A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, called “A Close-knit culture, with separation at its core,” summed it up pretty well, saying “as a pandemic hobby, it’s perfect. Socially distanced, it hails human connection with the push of a button. If the going gets tough, you can always heave a lifeline across the airwaves.”

ARRL Vice President Mike Raisbeck K1TWF, (who visited our Field Day site a couple years ago), commented in the same article when asked about the state of amateur radio during the pandemic, saying that “people are looking to touch the rest of humanity.”

It’s a beautiful statement if you think about it.

Amateur radio is truly a culture of connection, allowing hams to interact with each other every day, no matter the distance, and for that, especially this year, I’m grateful.

Works Cited:
“A Close-Knit Culture With Separation at its Core.” Christian Science Monitor. 16 December 2020. Website: https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/2020/0521/A-close-knit-culture-with-separation-at-its-core-video

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