Guest Post Wednesday: Visiting in 3D

My dad wrote this guest post after visiting with my brother’s family, including the new grandbaby, out west last week. Here he muses about the difficulty of substituting electronic and social media communication for an old-fashioned, face-to-face visit.

It had been less than a year since Gail and I visited with our son, daughter-in-law, and only grandbaby in their home in Washington state. Because we live in Pennsylvania, we try to Skype each week so we can talk to them and see their faces and—most of all—so Myka can get to know her long distance grandparents.

It is always a delight to hear Myka’s sweet voice, “Hi, Grandma. Hi, Grandpa,” when she sees our faces on the screen. It always makes my old grandpa heart go pitty-pat!

In December, a new bundle of joy arrived in the family, baby boy Emery. We planned our next visit in January to spend time with them after Emery was home from the hospital and settled in.

Because our plane arrived late, Myka was in bed when we arrived, and we had to wait until morning to see her. But we held baby Emery and enjoyed the time with his parents.

The next morning I really expected to be greeted by a happy “Hi, Grandpa!” when Myka woke up.

Instead, it was as if she didn’t recognize the real me. She knew the flat image on the computer screen and she knew my voice, but this 3-D, full-size, bearded old man was not what she knew.

Why was that, you ask?

Because no matter how you spin it with adults or kids or the interface in between, social media in any form is a poor substitute for the real thing. Nothing beats being physically in the same room. Inviting someone to be your “friend” or to linked in is fine but it comes nowhere close to inviting them to have dinner with you. Nowhere. (That is another post.)

Sure, it didn’t take long for Myka to warm up to us, and we had a great week. Every time we walked into the room or she came into ours, we heard that sweet sound, “Hi, Grandma. Hi, Grandpa.”

It still melts my heart.

We will continue to Skype with Myka, Emery, and their parents—after all, some contact is better than none—but even more now, I will be wishing Myka was sitting on my lap so I could read her one of her books. Again.

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6 comments on “Guest Post Wednesday: Visiting in 3D

  1. stephen says:

    Great post. The opposite of this situation is also true. Last night, Grandma S. called on the telephone and I put it on speakerphone so Myka could join the conversation. After a few minutes of converstation, Myka asked, “Grandma, hold you?” Her way of asking Grandma to hold her.

    So while Grandma and Grandpa might take a little time to get used to when we see them in real life, sometimes it takes a little bit of time to get used to not seeing them in real life.

  2. Mom says:

    We live in an entirely different world (from the “I remember when” days) but somethings just cannot be improved!!! Human touch just can’t be duplicated in any way, shape or form. I am very thankful though for the technology even though I am a step behind. I guess I should say ‘many steps’ behind but I promise to keep plugging away at the race! lol!

    • elizabeth says:

      Yep, there is something to be said about being in the same room with someone. I was at a funeral recently where one of the ministers quoted something along the lines of “You don’t really know someone until you’ve put your feet under their table.” It was such a good twist on the “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” line, because there really is something about sitting down in someone’s space and participating in the stuff of life beside them. (That “stuff” often includes food!)

  3. Melinda says:

    My sister, too, has an across the country granddaughter. She also is not the least bit technology minded. Her solution to the problem was to record books on a cassette tape so Annie could have her Grandma read her a bedtime story every night.

    • elizabeth says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Melinda! I love the idea of recording a book being read. (Like the Hallmark commercial!)

      Though I’m not sure I could even play a cassette tape if someone sent me one. 🙂

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