Amateur Radio is one of my hobbies. As an active “ham” operator, I concluded years ago that many people participating in the hobby have lost the ability to communicate except “on-the-air”. The primary evidence for this is meeting any fellow “ham” face to face whom I have not communicated with in any way (radio or otherwise) in a long time. Usually their first words are, “I haven’t heard you on the air, I though something might have happened to you.” They seem totally incapable of visiting your house and knocking on the door, picking up their phone and dialing your number (I’m listed), sending a telegram, postcard, letter, email, IM or other method of interacting. If they don’t talk with you over the airwaves, you cease to exist.
Speaking as a ham I have to admit many of us are of an odd sort. Maybe that explains the failure to stay in touch, it’s all related to the lack of social skills and interpersonal relationships so often portrayed by the stereotypical nerd, geek or whatever society calls us. As long as we are buffered from someone by the mike, key or keyboard in front of us then we are brave enough to speak out.
But within the hobby those methods of speaking can sometimes be abused. For instance I remember the time I was cruising down the road in my vehicle equipped with my Amateur Radio Callsign license plate and I heard someone honking their horn behind me. Repeatedly. Only it wasn’t someone wanting me to get out of their way; as the other driver passed I noticed his Callsign plate and realized he was trying to talk to me in ‘morse code’ using his horn. Sorry guy, but I had Black Sabbath cranked up really loud and missed most of what you were telling me. A simple wave would have been enough for me to understand and acknowledge. One habit many hams have that I find particularly irritating is their substitution of ham radio shorthand in place of normal spoken words. Since there is no way to communicate laughter with the code, hams have adopted the short hand ‘HI HI’ (sent as …. .. …. ..) to show their amusement. However many, WAY too many, hams will be talking with you in person and when they say something they think is funny will immediately follow it by saying “HI-HI”. Often in a deadpan voice without a hint of even a smile on their face. Weird.
My reason for wanting to post today was because I’ve made the same observations of people whose primary method of communicating is via the Internet. They wait for you to pop up online in their IM friends list or make a blog post, and ask you if you were alright because they hadn’t heard from you in soooo loooooong. And that’s somehow my fault?
I don’t hide from anyone, I just like to keep a variety of options open instead of restricting how I communicate. Problem is not very many people seem to know how to use them.