Political Division–No Place in our Hobby
I participate in two different hobbies which in the past have always promoted good will towards mankind. The first is amateur radio (ham radio) which brings likeminded radio/electronics enthusiasts from around the world where we find each other on the airwaves and use our common interests to bridge the issues that divide us. In this hobby, I’ve talked to fellow hams all over the world. From someone a few blocks away all the way to hams in England, Japan, Australia, China, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq and Israel. We exchange our thoughts, ideas and our dreams for a peaceful and better world. In my over 10 years of being an FCC licensed amateur radio operator, I’ve never heard anything other than positive vibes regardless who is talking and regardless of where they are talking from.
Years ago, the flight simulation hobby was just like this. VATSIM, IVAO and the internet in general has brought many of us from differing cultures together for a common interest and that is aviation and flight simulation.
Last week on one of the Facebook groups I belong to, a fellow flight simmer posted a series of screen shots he had taken from his flight simulator to showcase a flight he had recently enjoyed. The pictures showed an aircraft from the Israeli airlines El-Al. The image was simply celebrating the history of Israel. The image, nor the typed message from the original poster didn’t contain any hateful, hurtful or political remarks. Yet, just a few minutes after it was posted….several members began sharing their hateful, spiteful and dangerous comments.
Thinking back to the immediate days after September 11, 2001….VATSIM shut down their network to coincide with what was happening in the real world. I was extremely proud that something which is just a hobby, made the decision to also cease operations during the timeframe where no other commercial aircraft was flying around the world. I received messages from fellow flight simmers who also were members of the same virtual airline I was flying for at the time (American virtual Airlines) offering their condolences for the tragic events that took place that day. Some of these fellow members were from the Middle East. They realized this hobby has no place for hate and political BS. We just want to fly our virtual aircraft.
Our world and our hobby is not the same as it was on the 10th of September 2001. The internet and social media has unfortunately created a mass of “keyboard warriors” who spew their hate, spew their political agendas and their absolute ignorance. I’m not being naïve about this, I’m simply saying that this hobby doesn’t have room for this behavior. The good news???? The admins of this Facebook group did quickly act, they shut down the post and they banned those who were spewing their hate towards the El-Al photograph.
I’m a fan of all airlines and while I mostly fly American Airlines, Southwest and British Airways….I also simulate operations for airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Royal Jordanian, Gulf Air and YES…I also fly El-Al from time to time. I’m not planning to stop and I’m not planning to stop sharing screenshots of these flights. If this happens to become the new norm (and I don’t think it will), I’m not sure I want to remain participating (at least not publicly) in the hobby any longer.
For the most part I realize the overwhelming majority who participates in our hobby will agree with what I’m saying. However, there is that old saying which reads, “a few bad apples can spoil the entire barrel”. So I hope you’ll join me in ensuring the bad apples never make it into the basket. If while on social media you see the type of behavior I’ve described, say something…report it. I’m not suggesting you act the same way (two wrongs don’t make a right), but stepping in, reporting it and I’d even go so far as insisting the admins do the right thing and place temporary or permanent bans on the offenders is really the only way this can be stopped.
Next week I’m going to discuss the struggle for balance between between performance of the sim versus maximum immersion. The following week I’m going to give an overview and some tips if you are planning to move away from Envtex/Envshade to the new REX Environment Force. Then if nothing happens, the week following I plan to share with you my “Top 10 Payware Aircraft for Prepar3d/FSX”. I hope you’ll take the time to read.
Until next time…
Be Kind to each other….