Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Video killed the telephone star

Yesterday my boyfriend and I went to Augusta to help celebrate my niece's 12th birthday. When we got there my sister was already serving the cake, which I thought was weird since I had called and told her we were 20 mins away and then 20 mins later we walked through the door (but she doesn't like to wait on anyone--you never know if they're actually going to do what they say they're going to do, right?--but that's another story for another time.) So forgoing the usual hugs and greetings, we immediately sit down and stuff ourselves with cookie cake baked lovingly by the hourly workers at Publix. It really was very good... I want some now.

The usual fun banter flowed like it always does around my family, and then the awkwardness began. It seemed like a good idea for my stepdad to call my mom--who lives in another city--and include her in the festivities by way of Google chat. Mom was in her nightshirt, hair in curlers and no makeup with the tv flickering next to her. Trying to include someone in a conversation via computer chat is like trying to include an infant or someone over 100 years old. There were 8 of us around the table, talking as we usually do and then someone would remember that my mom was with us. Now, my mom can have a hard time following our conversation even when she's present--I think it's the pop culture references that stump her ("wait, now who is that you're talking about....?) or possibly the constant double entendres in our teasing ("wait, now what did she say.... OH, I get it...")

Everyone got quiet and stared at the computer screen. Mom could only see 3 of us because of the computer's camera positioning so I can only imagine how it looked to her with those 3 people staring at her and hearing a disembodied voice going "Sooooooo........" Awkward.

Anyway, the funny part was when we could see my mom saying something she didn't mean--something we wouldn't have picked up on if we were just on the phone. She said yes to something that she didn't really want to do and we all knew that because she was shaking her head NO even as she was agreeing. We all called her out on it and of course, she was confused or pretended to be. My mom also says goodbye 8 different ways before she actually hangs up the phone so it was funny to see that play out in person.

A word of advice: an image on a computer screen doesn't substitute for the actual presence of a person. Not even though you get to see all the weird things they normally do while they're talking to you on the phone.

Of course, video chatting is a voyeur's wet dream... so, good for you guys.

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