You have found a new passion. You are excited and dive into every aspect of your new hobby. Then, to your dismay, you run into the ugly existence of “Hobby Snobbery.”
What is Hobby Snobbery? Hobby Snobbery is where one group of people in a given hobby believe they are “better” than another group; elitists in some way. It happens in every group, but let’s take a look at just two groups I have found this ugly disease alive and well; Offroading & HAM Radio.
When I purchased my first Jeep in 2008, I was ready to get into the Jeep Clubs, rides, events and community. Initially, we were welcomed into the groups where members shared a common interest. Soon thereafter, we started feeling some resentment within the group. Some of the “old timers” who considered themselves “hard core wheelers” didn’t take too well to the folks with the new rigs. We rode hard, took our knocks, scrapes & dings with a smile, and became better at our hobby, but there was still an underlying tension that existed. We upgraded our ride with money and time; lifts, wheels, tires, lockers, disconnects, armor, bumpers, winch, offroad lights and more so that we would not hold up anyone on the trail or require assistance. Still, there were those who felt that if you took a bypass around an obstacle or didn’t brake something on every trip, you were not quite “good enough” in their book.
On the other hand, there were those members who were all about the name brand and the bling. If your rig was not “show ready” you were not up to their standards. They bought only the most expensive modifications for their rigs and if your rig was not as “pretty” as theirs you were an outcast.
Switching gears to HAM radio… While on a Jeep ride with friends on one particular trip, I found myself amazed that one member was talking with people from other states and even countries thousands of miles away on his “CB” radio with an antenna that looked like a grenade launcher. I was amazed at how clear the communication was and could definitely see the advantage of this communication from a safety standpoint when nobody in our group had a cell phone signal in the mountains and woods. Fast forward a year later and I had passed by Technician and General licensing certifications. I had learned much about this new hobby as well as radio transmitting (TX) and receiving (RX) as well.
Once again, I began to notice the ugly disease of Hobby Snobbery. HAM operators knew that it was against FCC laws for regular “citizens” to operate on certain frequencies and that’s why they were cast into the “CB” or “citizens band” of frequencies and only at lower power levels (4 watts) where HAM operators had much more freedom within the frequencies and could operate up to 1,500 watts of power. Then there were even elitists within the HAM community that would look down upon their fellow hobbyist if they did not achieve the highest level of HAM certification (Extra Class) or if they were not electrical engineering purists building their own radios, antennas and other equipment. At one point, I created and ran a HAM and Offroad website and community known as “OffroadHAM” which had over 1,000 members worldwide with on-air communication networks twice per week. Inevitably, there was dissention amongst the ranks from those who counted themselves “better” than others. Eventually, I had seen enough complaints and bickering that I resigned the group, website and nets.
Currently, I am a member of many offroad forums, websites and even local clubs, but it still amazes me how “Hobby Snobbery” continues to live as a cancer amongst the members. One member asks what they should name their Jeep or what is the best tire size or brand. One member might ask how a wheel or grill looks on their rig. One might post a picture of another rig they saw that they didn’t like and ask everyone else to post their critiques. One member might ask why nobody is doing the “Jeep Waive” in their area. There will definitely be some kind remarks and advice, but the claws will come out and some will go out of their way to make others feel stupid, unworthy and unwelcomed. They can’t seem to remember when they were new to the Hobby and were looking for acceptance and a sense of belonging.
Again, this practice is not limited to Offroading and HAM hobbies. Pick any hobby or pastime and you will find the same. We have been avid weightlifting and fitness members for over 30 years and are happy to help the “newbies” jump in and find success, but there are those who would prefer to ridicule these people to somehow make themselves feel superior in some way.
Next time you see a question or comment that drums up nastiness from deep within, try to simply skip over the feeling that you need to respond. Just think of that other person as someone in your own family and network of friends and respond according or simply hold your thoughts and your tongue. You may actually find that one day that person pulls you out of the mud, or up a hill, or helps you fix your rig or your radio. There are many good people in every Hobby at every level. Just remember, you were new once and at the root core, they just share an affinity for the same hobby as you.
Hobby Enthusiast … Always Learning