Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Question EVERYONE Asks...

"So, do you SKYPE with your family?"

I've been getting this question since Skype came into popular use when I was still living in the U.S. and my husband was here in Germany. My answer has always been the same: Nope.

I don't blame other people for using Skype and video chatting, but it's not for me. I call my parents every Monday on the old-fashioned landline and our calls often last 90 minutes. I call my daughter every week or two when she has time. I don't talk to my son quite as often because you know how boys are. All of us, regardless of phone calls, send lots of emails, and with my kids we chat via Facebook. I also write postcards to my kids, who are both in college, every few weeks. That's right - postcards. Three of them fit into an envelope for the price of one international stamp, and they get to see pretty pictures besides.

When M and I were living an ocean and six time zones apart, we emailed daily and talked on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and often mid-week during the summers. We also used Instant Messenger to chat online. Often we preferred the online chatting to talking on the phone, especially when we needed to multi-task. I don't need to video-chat; I know what my family and friends look like.

So no, I did and do not skype.  Why not?

Think of all the things you cannot do while you're video chatting that you can do while on the old-fashioned (though cordless) phone:

  1. pace (I try to sit on the sofa while I'm talking on the phone, but I always end up pacing.)
  2. go down into the cellar to get something
  3. check Facebook or email
  4. not worry about how you look
  5. play solitaire
  6. fold laundry
  7. roll your eyes at something the person on the other end said
  8. scratch your nose ("I wasn't picking, I was scratching!")
  9. scratch an itch in an awkward spot
  10. change clothes
  11. drink a glass of wine during an afternoon call (which I only did sometimes in the States)
  12. dust
  13. sweep the floor
  14. eat a messy snack
  15. facepalm

And this is why online chatting (typing) is sometimes even better than talking on the phone. After typing a response to whatever the person you're communicating with last wrote, you can do any of the following undetected:
  1. put laundry in the washer or dryer
  2. grab a snack
  3. take a bathroom break
  4. empty the dishwasher
  5. eat a noisy snack
  6. answer a telephone call or the doorbell
  7. express frustration out loud in response to something the person wrote
  8. take the garbage out
  9. listen to music
  10. watch a Formula-1 race or anything else on TV
  11. facepalm
True, every now and then one of us ended up typing "Still here?", but M and I knew the other one needed to multi-task sometimes. It is, of course, best to give the person you're communicating with your full attention, but these international phone calls sometimes last several hours and multi-tasking is sometimes necessary and sometimes desireable.

In 10 years or so if I have grandchildren (no rush, kids!), I can see the point of video chatting. Children change so quickly and forget people they don't see frequently. But until then, I'll keep using the telephone and email.

M told me recently that Skype isn't just about video chatting. One can also use it like a phone or use it to type-chat online. For me that would mean learning how to use new technology and a new system, so no thanks until I'm forced. What I've been using for the last 12 years or so works just fine.


  1. I don't use Skype either. We skyped with Jan's mum one Christmas and gave her a "tour" of our place via laptop webcam and I once skyped with a friend when her son was tiny... that was how I "met" him. But I don't even have a Skype account... on those occasions we used Jan's. My grandma keeps going on at me to set up an account so I can skype with her though. She's more into modern technology than I am!

    1. Whew, I'm glad I'm not alone. I feel very old-fashioned sometimes, but I'm ok with that.

  2. I use Skype and FaceTime every once in a while, but with e-mail, text, Facebook messenger, etc. I feel like I can keep in touch just as well with everyone back home.