Why FaceTime can never replace face time
Sure, Apple’s FaceTime is convenient for getting in touch. So is Skype. And e-mail, instant messaging, texting and soforth. There is, however, something which takes place when you get actual face time with someone that a digital approximation will never be able to imitate: a connection.
Can you feel me now?
In an increasingly digital world, analog communications is an endangered species. Of course, there’s no denying the appeal of digital: whether it’s e-mail, video chatting or text messaging, its promise is one of ubiquity, speed and convenience. Want to reach someone who’s in a meeting sans laptop? Texting to the rescue. Want to coordinate with people in multiple physical locations? E-mail has your back. Need an answer right this minute? Instant messages coming up.
Even if you spring for full-blown video chat, though, there is one thing digital communication – somewhat paradoxically – will never get you: an old-fashioned, analog human connection. It’s the moment when you pick up the scent of the woman who’s going to be the mother of your children for the first time. It’s when your body language tells someone that you’re not aiming to provoke, even if your exact words written in an e-mail would infuriate the recipient. It’s when you kiss your little daughter good night, instead of telling her good night over the phone.
It’s what lets you bond with people, whether at work or at home.
Still, it’s no wonder that we resort to digital communication, and particularly so when we’re pressed for time or communicating from afar. It’s good for one-on-ones, fantastic for group communication and undoubtedly a boon for productivity. But if we fail to balance the analog with the digital, we lose the cohesion that builds lasting relationships.
Imagine if, 20 years ago, a colleague sitting a few feet away from you were to type something out on a typewriter, then walk over and plunk it on your desk, expecting you to respond in kind. Unlikely, yes? Yet, somehow, we execute this exact maneuvre every day – only digitally. Just ask yourself this: when was the last time you communicated digitally with someone who sat just a few feet away from you – or one floor up, for that matter? Sure, I’ll by the e-mail excuse if there is relevant history or information, but apart from that… no.
In addition, you need to get up – and I do mean need. Your mind needs the break. Your body needs the motion. In fact, several recent studies claim that our sedentary lifestyles are doing us in even worse than what was originally thought – and some go as far as comparing prolonged sitting to smoking, with the New York Times breaking out the ‘lethal’ word for its recent story on the topic.
Now that I’m done scaring the bejeezus out of you about the corporeal collateral damage of digital communication, it’s time to take a quick look at how we got here. You see, I’m as guilty as anyone, having been at the forefront of these developments for the past 15 years. Digital is speedy. Convenient. You could easily say it’s an equivalent of fast food: the path of least resistance. Fortunately, it’s not as detrimental to your health, but it needs to be kept in check – or it will impact your relationships negatively, even though it may at first glance appear as if it brings you closer to people due to the increased frequency.
As is well known, though, quality has a tendency to beat quantity – and it also doesn’t hurt to remember that a little quietude has never hurt anyone.
So, next time you fire off one of those chat-style missives, perhaps you could try lumbering over to have a little face time. I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the better for it.