Ok, so we (I) had the *brilliant* idea to get all the family members - who are out of state, web cams for Christmas... in the name of relationship building, of course. Well, we got every one set up before Christmas day so we could all talk on Christmas... because of course it is a high holy day and if we don't talk... well heaven forbid the thought. But, how great it was going to be - not only talking on Christmas, but doing it face to face!
There was all this hype created by myself with much self-promotion only to lead to awkwardness and many malfunctioning web cams across these United States.
First we called Dave (Ryan's Dad). Ahh... Dave came out not fully dressed to see us and greet us for Christmas and watch the boys open their gifts. Ryan was kind (and wise) enough to have him go change. Again. Not what I had envisioned. Granted, we called at about 9am. Dave is in Florida time: a 3 hour time difference. It makes me sad to think that he wasn't even dressed by noon time on Christmas day. Well... we'll call that a 1/2 success because Grandpa got to see the kiddos open gifts and we had sound.
Jon and Carolyn joined us on Christmas day - Jon my only brother (out of five kids) and my best friend Carolyn, who happened to marry my brother. So, the moment was upon us: time to make, well receive the big call. We all piled onto the couch and viewed my other sisters, my mom and her brother and his wife all crouching around the computer in Monica's room (my youngest sister). It was a disaster. We couldn't hear each other. We could only see each other. My brother was pacing - just out of view of the web cam saying, "oh this is so stressful" - "oh I can't stand it" - "oh somebody do something" - we all said hi on someone's speaker phone and called it a day... well Christmas day any how.
Since the sisters (Lisa and Monica) were already with Mom... there was no need to make an additional 2 calls.
My point: even the *best* of intentions wind up with not such a great result. We're still trying to web cam with the fam, but honestly it's been difficult to nail down a time when some one isn't on the road, too tired to "hook up the equipment" or some other excuse.
Now that we have web cam experience under our belt, here is what I've learned:
1. Always hide the crap you don't want others to see behind your couch so you appear to have a cleaner house than once thought.
2. Create great lighting - a friend who shall remain nameless at this point has taken a picture of herself with a web cam and is excited because she thinks it looks like her "goth days" (that were 15 years ago. That is not the look your going for. Trust me. We want to see your pretty face.
3. If you take a picture of yourself with your web came, please make sure you edit it. Again, good lighting makes all the difference.
4. Have a point of conversation before you start. There is nothing more uncomfortable than having a conversation with some one with out having something to say.
5. If you decide to show off your living space and give tours, please make sure you can hold your laptop in a steady position, as to not make the web cam viewer ill.
6. Watch what you say - you never know who is in earshot and who may be listening, just out of earshot.
I will say, it has been great to see my sisters in real life. I have not seen Lisa for almost two years, so to see her animated and alive... well it was great. My how all their hair styles have changed, their expressions, goals and desires - you just don't get that on facebook.
To summarize: The web cams were a disappointment. Like so many other things... I get hyped up about something I believe will be new and exciting that will surely change your life - and that was clearly not the outcome here.
The intent: good. The outcome: not as expected.