June 30, 2018

Keeping in Touch

The evolution of technology has been changing our lives the same as most everyone else in the world. When I first lived overseas as a middle schooler, our bi-monthly phone calls home to family in Canada were expensive, carefully timed, and considered a luxury. Letter and postcard writing was the norm. Now we have Skype video calls for free from anywhere on the planet that has connectivity. Yet being connected is so pervasive it feels that we don’t have time to write each other emails? It’s a paradox.

Think about the choices we have: Telephone. Voice over Internet. “Old school” emails. Facebook Messenger. Snail Mail. Actually sending a postcard or present through the postal mail. Smartphone chats (e.g. WhatsApp). Instagram. Snapchat…

Then there is the different level of importance we place on physically visiting someone. When planning a trip, with who will you spend limited facetime becomes a real dilemma. Who is the most important? Who are your priorities? Do you run yourself ragged keeping up relationships, or do you try to relax and focus on certain people?

I daresay technology has a positive impact when you want to stay in touch. The trick is to pick the right tech to fit the relationship. Keeping in touch can mean reaching out minute-to-minute, a couple of times a month, or even just once a year—Christmas cards or New Year Greetings.

Anyway, I’ve pulled together some photos that I think are amusing and which highlight the immediacy of our visual communication or the importance of being there with the person.
One day Lady E. was adamant she did not want to join us on a weekend jaunt. It would be boring. She would rather read by herself. If we forced her to come, she clearly telegraphed she would make it unpleasant for all. So we figured she was old enough to stay home by herself for a few hours.

By lunchtime we were getting a regular stream of WhatsApp photos (above) indicating she was OK but bored, perhaps a tad lonely, but never second-guessing her own decision to not join us. Elena’s amusing facial expressions and burgeoning creativity are evident from that brief separation.
M. is just crazy sometimes. She will preen. She will dance. She will bob and duck, twist and run into walls. She makes my day with her exuberance. She likes to capture that energy with smartphones. Of course we egg her on. Here’s a few of the results.
Now, here we have Grampa visiting us in Tennessee. This is the guy responsible for giving me the travel bug, God bless him. Grampas are mythic creatures in our house. They command respect, yet rarely yell (like daddy does when he loses it). They often give presents and treats. They get hugs before going to bed. We like it when Grampa visits, wherever we may be living. Or when we visit O-jichan or O-baachan in Japan. The downside of living far away from each other is improved by technology that keeps the bond intact until the next visit. And hooray for that.
And here is my brother in his bearded phase on a Skype call with the whole crew. Grizzly Adams redux. We need to get the Rising Daughters some face time with Uncle Steve.
Then there are far-flung friends such as S. Merklinski, whom I tend to see on my almost-annual visits to Hiroshima. Another case is hoisting ales with D. Tulowitski, one of my old housemates from college days, whom I hadn’t seen in some time. Usually, such reunions involve beer, catch-up chats with just a dash of reminiscing. You can’t live in the past, and making fresh memories is what counts.  I also do regular calls with Billy Bob McTheory in Nevada, James Sillywalk, and M. Penilski. We all make an effort to stay in touch.  

There are some who say instant communication technologies are affecting family relationships in negative ways. Our daughters are not teens yet. So far we’re all good, as they say in these parts. For now, tech is a net positive. What happens when jet packs, personal drone taxis, hyperloop trains, VR headsets or IC chip skull embeds become that latest thing? Let’s find out, shall we?

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