Sunday, February 16, 2014

When the Elmer Disappears

If you have known me for any length of time you know that I have a fascination for electronics and technology. Being in the broadcast industry allowed me to shadow some truly great electronic and broadcast engineers when I wasn't pulling on-air shifts. I am grateful that some took an interest in showing me their trade and even more, took an interest in my fascination of how things worked.

Years later I found myself testing through electronic theory exams to obtain various levels of amateur radio FCC licenses. Even then, there were people who were interested in seeing me succeed. They were called Elmers in the ham radio community. An Elmer is essentially the same thing as a mentor with a funny name that was given to the job of helping people get started in the great hobby of ham radio. 

Just recently I decided to spend a little more time back in ham radio. To my surprise things weren't the same as they used to be. The face of that great hobby seems to have shifted. The community appears to be more inward focused than outward focused. The new generation is more interested in the product rather than the design. The element of the Elmer is not as prevalent as it once was. 

What does all of this mean? For ham radio it means the new generation will have less access to the experience and guidance of those who are experts in the field. The result is more of an interest in retail products and less of an interest in building products from the ground up. It also means less interest in experimentation and innovation. Essentially the result is a hobby that has completely changed. 

This is happening not only in ham radio hobby but in everything else. The mentor is disappearing. People are more inward focused and don't have time for others. The result  is a change in the face of society. This has already happened and will continue to happen as long as we do not take an interest in others, especially the younger generation. 

When the Elmer/Mentor disappears so will the face of things as we know it. We will slow the pace of progress and repeat the mistakes of history. So make a point to be an Elmer, Mentor, or Disciple and teach others to do the same. 

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