Faraway, so close

Friday, October 21st, 2016

  • This evening I caught up with friends back in Australia over Skype. These kinds of ‘meet-ups’ are extremely valuable to me because, as limited as ‘virtual face-to-face meet-ups’ are, they still give everyone involved a sense that we spent a little time in each other’s company.

    I took a picture of everyone on my screen, and in turn they took a selfie with me too. From the left in my picture are Phong, Madeleine, Baz (Andrew), and Ember. Great friends!

    Various apps, like Skype and WhatsApp, enable us to call and leave voice messages for friends across the world for free. Not so long ago it was expensive to talk to friends overseas, and when someone moved to the other side of the world, your connection with them suffered a great deal. However, these days when meeting in person is impossible, a virtual meet-up is the next best thing.

    Phong proposed a new idea called ‘Podcast Club.’ We all have busy lives, and recognizing how easy it can be to lose touch with friends, Phong was inspired by the concept of people meeting at book clubs. Not being much of a literary connoisseur, he thought that instead of meeting to discuss a book, we could discuss a podcast instead.

    It sounds no less ‘geeky’ than a book club, but the motivation behind the idea is really great. WhatsApp groups and Facebook posts are good for knowing what others are up to, but spending time with friends is where those friendships find their depth. So while we gather and discuss a podcast, the real value is in the time we spend together, and while I might be on the other side of the world, I’m only as far away as the screen in the room with them all.

    The banter, the foolery, and the friendship were not inhibited by the limitation of the media. In fact, I would argue that it’s by this very technology that I’ve kept many of my faraway friends, so close.

    You too can listen to the episode of the Freakonomics Podcast we discussed.