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[at-l] A few comments to some of my fans. . .
- Subject: [at-l] A few comments to some of my fans. . .
- From: "Jack Tarlin" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2000 12:29:39 PST
I'm enjoying the on-going dialogue re. computers and courtesy in the
woods. The public comments have been lively and varied, and I've had lots
of private correspondence. It seems that most folks seem to be in agreement
that there is absolutely a well-established code of etiquette on the Trail
regarding high-tech gadgetry and its public use. Anyone who wishes to deny
that these perceptions exist and are well-known, as far as what constitutes
polite and proper behavior, is either distorting the truth or quite frankly,
needs to spend more time on the Trail before pontificating about what passes
for commonly acceptable behavior.
I just wanted to take a few minutes and respond to some of my more
strident critics. It's always good to hear from these folks, as it's
usually the same ones; several of you have pointed out to me in private
correspondence that several of these folks delight in criticizing ANYTHING I
have to say, and of course, this is true. I expect it, and it bothers me
not at all.
It doesn't bother me if people disagree with me, even if they're doing so
just on general principle. But it does bother me when their dislike of me
personally prevents them from presenting rational arguments, or worse, it
bothers me that these folks get so fired up about their flaming responses to
my posts that they don't bother to read or think thru what I've actually
For example, several folks took great umbrage at my allegedly attempting
to speak for them, or speak for the thru-hiking community at large. If they
bothered to actually read both of my posts, they'd have discovered that this
was not the case. I feel that my experience on the Trail over the years has
given me a unique perspective, certainly when considering what the Trail is
actually like, how many people actually think, etc. But I don't presume to
speak for everyone.
Just the opposite, in fact. In my original post, in which I first
presented my "survey" on what folks thought of computers, and I quote from
it, I was wondering "if I was speaking for myself. I like to think I'm
reasonable in touch with what most of the thru-hiking community is thinking,
but maybe I'm wrong. So here's my questions to you guys. . ." In other
words, in initiating this discussion, I made it patently clear that I was
NOT speaking for everyone, and that I genuinely was interested in hearing
the thoughts and perspective of other folks. That is precisely why I asked
members of the community the questions that I did. So my critics who are
taking such glee in accusing me of speaking for everyone have entirely
missed the point: I freely admitted that I don't, and that I wanted to hear
other voices. It's a pity that some people's animosity towards me has
started to interfere with their reading comprehension.
And speaking of inability to read, I can't believe that I'm being
lambasted for allegedly telling folks what they can carry, and what they
can't. Once again, we have folks who need to go back to Reading Comp 101.
I made it patently clear, as clear as a bell, that I was NOT dictating on
what people could carry. I made it clear that this wasn't my place to
comment on---I DON'T CARE what people choose to carry; it's not my business.
My comments involved the use of electronics, particularly in regards to
how this use affected other hikers. And how concern over this makes me
"technophobic" as someone put it, is to miss the point entirely. There is a
time and a place for items to be used: For example, I'm sitting in the
Hanover Public Library. Most folks here would find it out of place if I set
up my stove and cookset on a nearby table and started to make dinner. Wrong
place, wrong time. They have nothing against my possession or use of a camp
stove. They merely question the appropriateness of my cooking in the
Likewise, my comments on computers do not mean that I fear or loathe
modern technological tools. I am not a technophobe; I am merely saying, and
the overwhelming number of people agree, that there is a time and a place to
properly use these devices, and most hikers feel that their public use in
shared social areas are decidedly inappropriate in a wilderness setting.
This is NOT merely my opinion; it is clearly known, and there IS an
etiquette established for the use of these items. Anyone who chooses to
deny this is either ignoring what they know to be true, or, they simply
haven't spent sufficient time on the Trail to speak with any level of
accuracy on the realities of Trail life.
I don't expect people to agree with everything I say. I fully expect
some folks, for reasons of their own, to vehemently dis-agree with ANYTHING
I say. But is it too much to ask that before sending out flames, that
people actually read what I've written without twisting it or
mis-interpreting it. I initiated this dialogue, as I clearly stated,
because I was concerned that I might be "speaking" for the community at
large, and I did not feel right about doing this. I presented my "survey"
because I wanted to hear different folks' views; it was not meant to be
comprehensive, complete, or the last word; it was merely at attempt to hear
other voices. And so far, the feedback I've received, both public, and
private, has supported my original contention: The majority of folks in the
thru-hiking community, while respecting anyone's right to carry whatever
they wish while on the Trail, feel that one should use great discretion and
care in the use of high-tech electronic devices in public or commonly shared
areas; to do otherwise argues gross dis-respect and complete inconsideration
of one's fellow hikers. You can dis-agree with this conclusion if you wish,
but to deny the truth of it is to deny reality. It's a pity that for some
folks, their antagonism towards me, or towards something I've written,
prevents them from recogizing simple truth. Facts are facts, regardless of
how you may feel about where you heard them. But the issue here isn't me,
the issue is respect for one's fellow hikers, and that is why I initiated
the discussion----and I hope it continues.
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