On Meeting Face(Time) to Face(Time)


Last week, I walked into a quiet room carrying my laptop in one arm and my anxiety in the other. Two people were inside, working diligently on laptops. I guess my auras were screaming, “I have something to say” because they looked up from whatever they were doing at the same time with the same glare. The worst part of it was that it was one of times where everyone knows they’re about to hear is a “something” they won’t really like.

“Do you mind if I Skype in here?” I felt bad asking, but YOLO.

Actually, the situation was much worse for me than it was for them. I wasn’t Skyping my best friend or my step grandma in Boynton Beach. I wasn’t about to get frisky in front of the camera or have a conversation with my dogs at home, either. I had a “date” set up to Skype with a professor, whose schedule was not very fond of mine. We needed to meet, had to meet, and it turned out that Skyping was our last and only option.

The clock struck 8. I was fumbling to download some sort of upgraded software before our Skype began when he GChat-ed me: “Have you ever done this before?”

Was I Skyping with my professor to properly analyze a red Pierre Balmain suit, or was I on the episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation when Emma succumbs to an online predator? (Also, was it Emma? Not positive–sorry, it’s more difficult to fact check Degrassi  than one might think.)

I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea: my professor is a great, great guy. Of course, the conversation went smoothly and safely in the comfort of a quiet-turned-unquiet lounge where I made sure I wasn’t alone. But still, it felt weird–almost unnatural–to have a real conservation on a platform like that. Why is it that in one of the most indirect ways we rely on for communication, I felt so exposed?

We just lo-o-ove that indirect communication: arguing over text instead of over the phone (or even better, to the face), subtweets, and passive aggressive boycotts against Instagram posts that have allowed our generation to become the most impersonal ever. That being said, it’s strange to meet over FaceTime, and even stranger how we can still feel so prodded when a shitload of bandwidth lies between us.

I don’t remember the last time I was afraid to meet someone in person. I’m very personable (maybe probably too personable). I’ve never been afraid to raise my hand in class nor have I been to open my mouth for all the right or wrong reasons. When I speak to someone, regardless of our familiarity, I’m putting myself out there to be perceived. While thinking about my nerve-wracking Skype, I realized: you never have a clue what you actually look like while you’re engaged in candid conversation, aside from the rare occasion you and your little brother are exposed on the kiss cam at a Knicks game.

When you FaceTime or Skype, how many times do you look at your reflection in the corner? Have you ever changed the angle of your phone–holding it higher or tilting it downwards–to create the perfect lighting to contour your cheekbones? Elongate your face? Are you judging yourself, too?

They say ignorance is bliss. If I’m unaware of how my fresh, no-makeup look just gives me the under-eye bags of a sixty year old, but can have a conversation all the more better because of it, fine. I’ll take it. It’s sad, in a way, but I’ll take it.