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.