Monday, October 1, 1990
Dear G.U.C.I. Staff:
I hope this letter finds you all safely back at school, dealing well with the
tensions and delights of campus life. Camp is most beautiful now. But even as
the leaves turn, our thoughts are turning to next summer and plans are
beginning to be made. If you have any suggestions regarding our program,
procedures, etc. I'd love you to send them to me so we can consider them as we
construct what I hope will be another fantastic summer here at G.U.C.I.
Driving to camp this morning, I stopped for gas and was, once again, confronted
with yet another high-tech experience. The station I usually stop at has
changed over to computerized credit card machines. You put your card into the
machine, pump your gas (and, of course, marvel at the speed with which the
numbers roll around and add up in the dollars column), pull out your receipt,
and hit the road. No muss, no fuss, no human contact. Next stop, the bank
machine. Insert card and punch in numbers, walk away with a crisp new twenty
dollar bill. Again, no muss, no fuss. No precious time lost saying things
like "Good morning," or "How are you," or "How about those Bears." No tellers,
no attendants, just efficient machines.
Those of you who know me know that I feel our camp is a refuge from the
impersonal, high-technology, isolation-inducing world around us. That, in this
age of high speed, high gloss, high fibre, and hi/bye relationships, the
community we build here is more valuable to us and our kids than it has ever
been in the past. But the reality is that we can't avoid the technological
world, even here at camp. Hey! I'm writing these words on a word processor.
The mailing list for these letters will be generated from our computer (which
happens to be about six years old and was recently referred to by a computer
expert as "An antique."), and the postage will be stamped on the envelope by
machine. So what am I griping about anyway?
Perhaps technology is not the culprit after all, but rather how we use it, or how we are seduced by it. When we allow our machines to replace human interaction we not only become a slave
to the technology, but we forget how to participate in some of our most basic
human emotional needs, like conversations and creative intellectual discussions
(like arguing about politics etc.). We start to feel lonely and depressed.
But when technology becomes a means to further our contact and communication
with our fellow human beings, it can be a blessing. Processing a mailing like
this would have taken several days B.C. (before computer). I probably wouldn"t
have started writing these staff letters, as a matter of fact, I didn't write
to our staff before I mastered the word processor.
So I guess it's all in how we decide to use the technology and in how we refuse to be used by it. That's it! So the next time I buy gas, I'm going to use the credit card machine like
before, but I'll stick my head in the door and say good morning to the
attendant, for the sake of humanity. And I'll be happy about our becoming a
high-tech camp--so we can keep in better touch--ya, that's the ticket. So if
you want to, send me a FAX on our new machine at 317-873-3742 (no bull).
You know, technology could be fun.