The following article was in Streeter’s Treasure Hunters Gazette a few issues back, and now that the issue has reached its readership, and run its course, I’m posting it here for all you detectorist’s who are, like me, sick & tired of being called “Obsessed”. We probably are by the definition, obsessed, but still, do they have to throw it in our face?
And they Call us Obsessed:
Have you seen them?
Sitting around, day and night, mesmerized by the sight of yarn and the clicking of their knitting needles…knit one, pearl two…knit one pearl two…
They bring their hobby with them wherever they go and can be spied at family functions, in waiting areas, and on public transportation, oblivious and just knitting away.
Oh how crafty they are, with their “I Love Knitting” tote bags, and afghan covered sofas.
Wait–did I say crafty? Dear me, I’ve misspoken, what I really meant was obsessed.
Yup, knitters are obsessed with knitting, yet no one harasses them or accuses them of being obsessed with their hobby.
So why then, does it seem everyone feels its perfectly okay to single out detectorist’s with their assumptions and accusations of them being addicted or obsessed?
I have a neighbor with the habit of running. Whether its 98 degrees or 22 degrees, he just has to run. He has special running shoes, subscriptions to every running magazine published, and a fridge full of Gatorade. He devotes entire weekends to 5 and 10k races, yet no one calls him obsessed, they call him healthy. Yeah, he may be healthy, but he’s definitely obsessed.
You’ve got the gamers, obsessed with video games.
The gourmet’s, obsessed with cooking,
The scrapbooker’s, obsessed with paper,
The genealogist’s, obsessed with dead people,
Then there’s the fishing enthusiast, the gun enthusiast, the dog enthusiast, the shopping enthusiast…the list is endless, the obsessions are many. And its interesting to note how recently the term hobby is actively being replaced with the term “enthusiast”. Does calling themselves enthusiasts make their hobby more acceptable that ours?
Why do we get singled out? What is it about metal detecting that folks think is so wrong?
Truth be told, maybe at times we do get a little obsessive about our hobby, but it’s a healthy hobby, and certainly not deserving of the attitudes we sometimes encounter. At least I don’t bring my machine to family functions to seek out all the rusty nails in my relatives floorboards, or carry around an “I love Metal Detecting” tote bag full of rusty relics and digging tools.
And just so the knitters and runners don’t think I’m singling them out, take my brother, the sports fanatic, for example. He’s a walking encyclopedia of player stats, a proud holder of season tickets to football games, and the owner of a television permanently tuned to the sports channel. Try to change the channel–I dare you!
No one protests or accuses him of being obsessed with sports, but they have no problem publicly dismissing detecting as a legitimate interest or hobby. Totally unfair!
I’ve patiently listened and engaged with my girlfriends as they drone on about their latest scrapbook page, and their hunt for the perfect embellishment or decorative piece of paper to go with their Aunt Agnes’s 80th birthday party photos. How much time was spent manipulating these items and a photo on a page in a book so they look just perfect? Okay, so it looks nice, and I appreciate and do scrapbook (and knit) on occasion myself. I even bake cookies, play video games, go shopping, and never miss a Super Bowl game; so I have a hard time understanding why they dismiss my weekend forays in farm fields searching for large cents, flat buttons, and Colonial shoe buckles as not worthy of discussion–or perhaps a decorative page in one of those scrapbooks?
Why do my family and friends consider my hobby an obsession, and roll their eyes, yet my crafty friends, addicted to knitting or manipulating pieces of paper, along with my jogaholic neighbor and sports addicted brother get a pat on the back for their efforts?
At what point did metal detecting get to the bottom of the hobby barrel, and what is it about it that people think is so wrong?
We are just as enthusiastic as others when talking about our hobby, and why not–we find cool stuff! Most of us, due to the nature of our hobby also end up collecting old bottles, and just because they’re there. No one thinks bottle collecting is stupid, and when you start talking about bottles everyone is right on board. Yeah, old bottles are cool, but so are old coins, relics and jewelry.
I am just so darn tired of being put on the defensive!
We are looked upon, and put in the category of the “creepy van guy”, the one who hangs around tot lots making everyone suspicious–yet in reality we are the eyes and ears of many public areas, and while engaged in our hobby are actually keeping an eye on the “creepy van guy”, in case he does something um…well…creepy.
We are the unpaid cleaning crew of the local parks and beaches, as well as the untitled historians of our cities and towns. Most of the time being more educated about sites and relics than the schooled and titled historians themselves.
We find lost items for people, and are happy to look without a promise of monetary gain or reward for our efforts, and not only are we helpful, we enjoy doing it.
I asked a close and honest (non-detectorist) friend her opinion of why we are looked down upon, and her response was “I think it’s because people think you are getting something over on them”. I thought about her response, and decided it made sense of so much of the discrimination we encounter, especially from the archaeological community. Then I thought, well…those folks can purchase and learn to use a metal detector too, they aren’t illegal.
Its not like they are some super secret machine which is hard to come by, or bought from a seedy looking fellow in a back alley. Trust me, the “creepy van guy” is not a detector dealer. Hobby shops sell them, and a quick search of google will attest to their easy availability.
I’ve come to the conclusion that most people want instant gratification from a hobby. They don’t want to take the time to learn or research something. They want to be immediately satisfied by the progress of their knitting or video game, or by seeing their favorite team win. Perhaps that’s why they haven’t taken the time to understand or appreciate what we do.
Metal detecting takes patience, knowledge and a good hunting instinct to master, and anyone who has ever wanted to smash their machine against a tree during the first few weeks after acquiring it can vouch for the learning curve.
Take if from a metal detecting “enthusiast” when I say that no one will call us obsessed when we come home with that treasure we’ve been searching for. Go figure!