If the ham community continues to maintain a rigid stance on the ARRL’s expanded HF petition, it will lose! The youth of today have no need for antiquated communication techniques that require they take the time to study and pass a test. Today’s world is not lacking for communication ability — quite the contrary — and today’s young folks are very adept at navigating it, and staying in touch and up to date much more than we ever were.
What about power down emergency situations? Cellular comms not reliable in disasters? The youth of today figure they will deal with that when the time arrives. Misguided? Perhaps, but that is what the ham community is up against, plus we do not go out of our way to try to improve/modernize our image much. Local nets are typically check-ins (for numbers), morning coffee, work travel hand waves, weather-at-my-house type conversations, not what today’s average youth find appealing.
Today they can pick up a cell phone and do any of those with a few keystrokes, and beyond that, no propagation concerns, noise is rarely an issue, imaging is instantaneous and unrestricted (no need for Dad’s Playboy!), and lest we forget: NO STUDY/NO TEST. Instant gratification goes a long way in selling a product.
The ham community is, in their eyes for old guys and gals who have nothing much to do, are not socially connected, are willing to work hard at making connections, and satisfied with a less than fantastic communication environment. I am not saying they or we are incorrect, just that is the state of affairs at the outset. We have yet to discuss the varied equipment and its uses, range limitations of that equipment, maintenance requirements, and on top of all of that software, connecting cables, and computer considerations. The fact that we can talk around the world no longer holds the mystique of our youth. They have been able to do that since birth, almost.
All I am trying to say here is simply this: our ham equipment is state-of-the-art, capable of doing a wonderful job when the situation allows, skill prevails, or just plain old LUCK takes over. The ham community for the most part is a melting pot of great people worldwide, and there is a self-satisfaction in accomplishing that particular DX contact, copying the satellite telemetry, or finding out how old Joe is across town. How much of that satisfaction is common knowledge to the youth of today? If we want the “Hobby” to continue and flourish, we have got to make it more appealing, open our world wider to theirs, prove the value and worth of what we do “for fun” and social connection, and introduce them to that self-satisfaction we enjoy.
There truly is hope. It is not all doom and gloom. We have a local 13-year old calling a 2m net here every Friday night. He and his dad got their ticket the same day. Hmmm, maybe that says something?
That to me appears to be the crux of our APPEAL problem. If it takes opening up a section of HF for them to experience it, then I am all for it. Allow the young folks we have the opportunity to show off to their peers, the proverbial “WOOHOO!” made that contact moment, or a “that is a station in a country far flung from here” moment! And hopefully the resultant, “WOW! That is cool” moment. If we fail to pass this on successfully then our greatest fear may become reality someday, “A world without communication!” And who among us really wants that?