Among the promises for the future when I was young was that real time video communication would take the place of the telephone. Every futuristic TV show and movie had just such a device, and some even had it in a handheld version. Back then I remember adults wondering if it was such a good idea. "What if I don't want people to see me when I'm talking to them on the phone?" they asked.
Flash forward 40 years and courtesy of Apple FaceTime is a reality. I remembered being underwhelmed when I first heard about this new functionality on the latest iPhone, in fact, I didn't even use it for the first few months I had my phone, but then my brother got one, too, and I am hooked. It's better than the plain old phone for sure, but it's also better than being tethered to your computer as you are for other forms of video chat. Somehow, they have managed to make it feel like you are really there.
Tonight my family called from Atlanta, and I got to see and talk to everyone. My brother and nephew took turns directing the phone call, walking around the room, showing me the Christmas Tree, some wrapped packages, various family members as they went about their business. It was really cool-- definitely the next best thing to being there. And I didn't care at all how I looked.