If you come from a DXing background like I do, then one of the lessons that will have been drummed into you is that you listen, listen some more and then listen again! The great DXer listens and makes his/her transmissions count. And that makes perfect sense if you’re combing the bands looking for new ones.
But how does that translate into our activity on the ‘day-to-day’ chat bands, like VHF/UHF or even some of the HF bands. Quite often you hear people saying, ‘I listen an awful lot but I don’t transmit very much’. And of course, I know that sometimes it isn’t convenient to transmit – it might be an RFI thing – you might not have time – you might not want to disturb the household…. these are all good momentary reasons.
But sometimes, I think we could all be a bit more active on the bands within the constraints of our day-to-day lives. It was Sunday afternoon and I was sat in the lounge entertaining the cats (if you have young cats, you’ll know how important this is to avoid curtains being swung on and bookcases scaled….). I had my iPhone with me and I dialled up a few interesting looking repeaters on Echolink and called through them. Perhaps no-one wanted to speak to me – but certainly no-one called. D-STAR was a bit more productive and I had a couple of nice chats. But even so, the systems I listened to were hardly buzzing with activity!
Perhaps we are spreading our activity too thinly across many bands/modes/repeater systems/digital modes? I think there’s some of that and I’ve certainly heard the view expressed that on D-STAR it’s easy to lose the activity with so many different reflectors (remember D-STARUSERS.ORG is your friend).
Sometimes though, I think there is a sense of wanting our leisure time activities to be laid on for us and for us just to ‘watch’. I get disheartened seeing people sitting in front of the TV apparently endlessly. They may well be watching informative programmes (or they may not). But what bugs me about it is that it’s a one way street. There’s no engagement or activity. I’ve seen a similar trend on Twitter with people who signup and look at other people’s tweets but never share what they are doing or thinking.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Social Media it’s that you must engage to make a success of it and get the best of it.
And so it is, I think, with amateur radio which was probably the world’s first social media platform. To me, just listening does not equal engagement.
So get out there. Call CQ and answer a few more calls through the repeater or on the bands. Have fun and I’ll see you on the air!