I know folks who love Skype and I know I'm not one of them.
Everybody knows people who travel for a living or at least knows about people who have to travel a large percentage of the time because of the responsibilities of their jobs. Though some may complain more than others, most people agree that the novelty of being away from home for extended periods of time wears thin quickly.
The reverse, at least from what I've seen, is also true, retired people don't want to move away from their families. They are happy they can finally spend time with them. If the kids have left then the parents are the ones hopping on a plane and to visit the grown children. Or the parents just move.
I love being connected---the idea that I can see what my friends and family are doing and thinking when I'm busy somewhere else is something I think of as a great gift. Knowing that everyone dear to me is closer because I can usually be located within minutes by phone or text message also makes me feel better.
Of course, talking and hearing the familiar sound of someone's voice is even more reassuring. There have been several memorable occasions when a beloved voice---strong, confident, OK---meant so much, that it literally put everything back on track. I love saying good night to my family no matter where we are or what we're doing.
That's why I can't understand why video-conferencing, skyping, whatever you want to call it, just doesn't do enough for me.
Maybe because the images always seem to look weird and distorted whenever I've used one of those systems. Images of people at a table in a conference room seem distracting and silly, unreal, even though I know they're perfectly real.
I don't especially want to talk to my family through a screen either. It makes me feel like they are worlds away instead of a half day's drive. Even without the old nightmare loading and buffering times, I can't watch a lot of YouTubes. I doubt if I'm alone on this one. Maybe it's because we're used to a pretty high standard of production for what we see on our screens. Maybe it's because television creates this passive-agressive reaction. (The show is aggressive and I'm passive.) Whatever causes my disinterest, seeing the person I'm talking to doesn't enrich the experience of a phone call.
Seeing the actual people I have been away from does serve to make me appreciate them more, which I suppose is a positive even in this very technology-friendly age.
But it's not worth it. I will never willingly be a parent or grandparent who's content with seeing images on a screen. And I hope I don't have to be away from anybody dear to me for so long that there is no better option.
For now, and maybe forever, I'd rather jump in the car and go. There is no substitute for real people in real time.
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