Sunday, 26 April 2020

Technical Glitches

posted by kathz

In the past fortnight, online Meetings have not all gone well for me. There have been some really good Meetings that nourished me. But there have also been occasions when i couldn't get past the technical glitches.

For one Zoom Meeting for Worship, I couldn't get the video linkup to work for half an hour. For another it didn't work at all. And when I tried a Meeting using adobe connect it kept failing - and I couldn't, in the short time when the connection was good, work out how to manage the video or the microphone.

It's hard to express how painful it is to try to attend a Meeting for Worship and then be distracted or turned away by a technological glitch. It's as though I came to a Meeting House and was told I couldn't go in, or entered a Meeting and was continually distracted by someone whispering in my ear and my own stomach rumbling.

But it has made me think more about those without the technology to attend, or those who choose instead to find stillness on their own. I haven't got a pat solution to offer. Those who find stillness on their own may yet find a way of sharing what they find with the wider Meeting.

The question of those who can't attend for other reasons is one which concerns me more deeply. There are many reasons why people might be unable to join any online Meeting for Worship. These reasons include poverty (the technological equipment and the broadband or data necessary all cost money); a crowded household in which a shared time of stillness would impinge unfairly on others and their needs; and a situation of abuse in which that time of stillness with others will be either prevented or punished by physical or psychological violence.

All these things - poverty, a crowded household with demands, and abusive relationships - affect members of the Quaker community and those who would wish to worship with us. Quite often those in such circumstances feel unable to share those aspects of their lives. And, as a Quaker community, we are poorer for not hearing from them. It is possible that  they have spiritual insights which we are currently losing. It is possible that hearing of their experience - their expertise on their own circumstances - could teach the rest of us.

I don't have a solution to this. I wish I did.

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