~Why Wi-Fi~ Part II

This is all being archived here:

The debate between me and a few luddites at the park slope food coop continues…

Another member responded:



Emma Rae Norton’s original letter in the 8/2/18 Gazette seeking Wi-Fi in the Coop said in part:

“I went to the office to ask about the possibility of Wi-Fi and I received a hard NO without explanation. I am writing here to see if anyone can offer an explanation. I would be really interested to know” The thrust of her letter was the desire to stay connected to work.

This led to Janet Gottlieb’s response in the 8/30/18 Gazette:

“I, for one, don’t think the Coop should be expected to accommodate members who visit, not to shop, but to do personal and professional business unrelated to the Coop’s functions.”

This, in turn, led to Emma Rae Norton’s rejoinder in the 9/13/18 edition, framing her stance on the issue. In response to Gottlieb, Norton observed,

“Given the fast paced, high rent, and competitive city we live in, it is hard to imagine a world where a 2 hour and 45 minute shift can be done without the anxiety of getting back to work—a reminder that this is a Coop that exists in 2018…not 1970.”

I understand how she feels. But, in a way, that’s the very point of shedding the shuffle of all work—all the time. Part of the benefit of the Coop is that we can choose to give ourselves the gift of a shift without the shaft of the shrift. [Say that ten times without fum fering.]

As I watch my granddaughter’s attachment to her iPhone, I see a kind of compulsion. In my own business, people are enslaved to their devices. The tyranny of intrusion into every part of one’s waking life is exactly that.

One of the reasons for being here is not to return to the ‘70s but to experience what it is and be a part of it now. You miss out if you’re somewhere else. The world can spare you for 2 hours and 45 minutes. It’ll be fine. There’s a whole wonderful microcosm here.

Norton’s letter closes with: “The Coop, being a community, should consider all options when it comes to Wi-Fi because why not.”

I think the reason is obvious.

My most recent response:

First I would like to thank the editors for allowing this Wi-Fi stuff to be carried out here and for publishing my letters. Thank you!

What seemingly started out a financial issue has quickly turned into a preferences and politics issue. Can we bring it back to the numbers for a moment? It would be awesome to see a detailed estimate of costs.

Here are some things that people might benefit from with a Wi-Fi connection: ability to transfer money to a bank account, ability to check in on a babysitter, a school, an elderly parent, ability to see email from work or friends or family, ability to request a ride-share, these are all things that many people depend on day in and day out. The Coop should not be about creating a sacred space but about creating a shared space in which all needs are at least considered.

I would like to re-clarify that I am not interested in Wi-Fi so that I can be glued to my phone during my shift. I am not some sort of technology evangelist who wants robots to take over the cash registers and for everyone to always have their headphones in. I am not even interested in being able to check my twitter feed while waiting on line. With that said, I think that the responses so far to the issue of Wi-Fi completely negate the factors of choice and need.

The key word in Rodger’s letter from 9/27/18 is choose. Many times throughout my day I choose to disconnect from technology. In many situations, I often choose to be present and experience, as Rodger put it, “being a part of now”. I like to do this during my shift and feel lucky that I have been able to make the choice to buy food here.

I do not get to choose to disconnect at the Coop because there is no connection to disconnect from. The “tyranny” and “enslavement” that Rodger writes of, in my opinion, are overly extreme perspectives on technology. To assert what the world can and cannot spare me and that “it’ll be fine” is to assume too much!

If the Rodgers and Janets of the Coop would like to stay off the Internet while at the Coop then they should free to do so. If other members would like to connect then I strongly believe that they should also be able to make a choice to do so.

It would be great to hear more perspectives on this issue.