I was part of the live chat room audience on Ham Radio 2.0 recently and the question “Isn't the term Elmer outdated?” came up. Well as with any group we amateur radio operators have our own subset of words we use, jargon if you like. I have stood in line at a store and heard the fellow behind me spit out “ Well we need to leverage that asset and drill down into the problem and see if we can find a resolution.” Come on, why should we be any different. Elmer has become a tradition over the last thirty years and I don't see what is wrong with a tradition or two. “Seventy Three” is a tradition and nobody has a problem with that. They like it so much they make up their own versions.
If you don't want to say Elmer you don't have to. We seem to over think everything nowadays. While we are worrying over semantics we are losing the time we could be using to help new Ham's progress in the hobby. We are also losing opportunities to bring new people in while we struggle over the word “Elmer”.
One of the suggestions for a different word was “Friend”. Is that like a Facebook Friend or a friend at work? Well I guess semantics comes into play there for me. An “Elmer is much more than a friend the way we use the word “Friend” today. An “Elmer” is someone willing to take the time to explain and instruct you in a given area. To answer questions and show you how if necessary without condescension. A good “Elmer” guides you along the path of Amateur Radio the way your Father or Grandfather would. Teacher might be good. Mentor would come even closer to the meaning of “Elmer” but it still falls short of conveying the close relation that develops between an “Elmer and the one they are “Elmering”.
Personally I don't care if you call me Elmer, Mentor, or Teacher as long as it is understood that I am here to help the non Ham to become part of the hobby and to help the current Ham to become more proficient so they can enjoy the hobby more fully.
Before you you try to remove Elmer from the equation. Try Elmering yourself.
“The path is treacherous grasshopper, make sure you have good shoes”