Letters - 21 August 2020

From Zoom can be an aid to Cromwell’s crimes

Zoom can be an aid

In spite of its deficiencies Zoom is much better than nothing for many of us when we cannot get to a normal meeting. 
First of all I will address some issues for Zoom-only virtual meetings. Cameras usually miss body language but they provide close-up views which make facial expressions easy to see, and help with lip-reading.

Instead of a speaker making eye contact with, at most, one other at a time while ministering in a live Meeting, on Zoom when the speaker looks at the camera, rather than the images on the screen, they make eye contact with everyone. A speaker’s voice may not be loud or clear enough in a large room, but will be easier to hear via Zoom. Some of these advantages may be experienced from a blended Meeting, but that depends on the set-up in the meeting room.

In a normal meeting we look around to see who is there, but we don’t stare at other people. It is good to look at a Zoom screen to see who is there, but after that it is better to keep eyes shut, or to contemplate a small object below the screen.

A person with a crying child or an ill partner might be unable to join a physical meeting, but they can Zoom confident that they can attend to the child or the partner when necessary without leaving their house or disturbing the meeting.

Each week I receive an email from our clerk. I have only to open it and click on a link to get into Zoom, no typing at all, but that depends on how the clerk provides the link. Zoom does not exclude anyone from meeting, but it is an aid for some who cannot share in other ways. 

David Hitchin 

Escalating needs

I am dismayed at the level of enthusiasm shown by some Friends for so-called blended worship, and the urgency some feel to set it up at their Meeting houses. We know that Zoom excludes those without the technology, or who feel it is not a Meeting for Worship if we are not physically present, which some still feel is unsafe.

Of more concern to me is the fact that technology costs money and time to install and learn how to use. Would this not be better spent in the world, helping those in need, and the planet? These needs are escalating more than ever, due to Covid-19.

Having a Meeting house with fancy technology would only distance Quakers from the real world, and risks making us irrelevant.

Joanna Parker

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