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[at-l] A few comments to some of my fans. . .



   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 
said.

    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 
Library.

    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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