"So I agreed to give video chat a try. We downloaded Skype and set a time to connect. They rang. I answered. My daughter waved. And then... we stared at each other. Short silences that seem natural on the phone become terribly awkward on video. Suddenly I understood why slumber-party confessions always came after lights were out, why children tend to admit the juicy stuff to the back of your head while you're driving, why psychoanalysts stay out of a patient's sightline. There is something exquisitely intimate about the disembodied voice" (Orenstein, 2009, P. 9).
I have friends who use Skype to video chat and I remember their realization that they needed to "dress" for the computer and that this was an inconvenience at 7 a.m. on a Sunday to talk to Ireland at 8 hours ahead. The ideas of new technology might seem great on first learning of the potential but as the quote above says, the romantic notions get destroyed fairly quickly.
Back in 1998 I was on line doing video chatting. The image was o.k. but the quality of the motion aesthetic was stunted and slow. However, it did serve a purpose. My 2 year old daughter was living 7,000 miles away from me and through this new technology we got to see each other more often than we would have without it. Also, she wasn't talking yet so the telephone was not the best medium for communication. So video chat allowed us to "be together" without the need to chat. It was useful at the time but our interactions (outside of visits) gravitated to the old telephone as she got a vocabulary together.
It seems that Orenstein's parents had a similar experience. They wanted to see their grandchild in real time on the screen. It seemed to be a great idea. It was suggested even to leave it on all the time so the grandparents could watch their grandchild grow up! She, Peggy Orenstein, on the other hand, was wary, "I did not, however, spend the bulk of my adult life perfecting the fine art of establishing boundaries only to have them toppled by the click of a mouse." Her parents while being optimistic about the possibilities of Skype for themselves and their grandchild were unaware of the impending awkward silences that are so easy on the telephone and so difficult when on video (Orenstein, 2009).
On returning to email and electronic photos the status quo was resumed. These individuals could once again finger through a magazine while listening on the phone, they could have moments of silence without worrying if they looked bored, etc. And they can always log on to Skype for the big occasions like birthdays, etc.
If there is one thing about new technology and new media that I believe in it is caution. I believe in the positive power of media - all of it. I also believe that media is not being used close to its positive potential. So many jump on the bandwagon of each new development and think it will change the world. It might but it probably won't.
Keeping it all in perspective is prudent. Pasting pieces of ourselves all over the web in places like LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Blogs, and where ever else will have implications going forward. We know now that potential employers are doing electronic (re)searches on potential employees. It is important to be aware of this notion.
It is important to represent yourself accurately and (hopefully) honestly. After all, if I am looking to employ someone to work in my family business I do want to know what you post on your Facebook page, I want to see your YouTube videos, I want to see your LinkedIn profile, and I want to know where and how your name comes up in the electronic world that is our "extended family... bringing us together or destroying boundaries" (Orenstein, 2009, p. 9).
Source for this blog:
Orenstein, P. (2009, June 28). The way we live now: The overextended family. Is Skype bringing us together or destroying boundaries. The New York Times Magazine, pp. 9-11.
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