Twenty years ago, the Internet was just a budding “html” and “www” on the World Wide Web. If you wanted to view a picture, you had to click on a link to download the photo. There were no web chats, just “The Jestons”, a 1960’s futuristic, classic cartoon which made any notion of “face timing” something that would occur in the very distant future. Nowadays, face timing is so common that even grandparents and great grandparents have learned to “face time” or “Skype” their grandkids.
In such a short time period, technology has been able to connect people in ways that were unimaginable. Friendships have been reunited, social bonds have been strengthened, and families have been able to keep in touch despite their physical distance. The “I miss you” is no longer an “I long for you” due to the instant gratification of picking up your smartphone or going on your computer to visually communicate with the person that you miss.
I believe face timing has the potential of making the world become a gigantic mixing bowl. Imagine all the people that you interact with everyday. The degree of your interaction really depends on your job and your personal social inclinations. However, if you interact with at least one person that is from another part of the world and continue your interaction with that person over face time, you begin to understand that person’s social mannerisms through his or her gestures and appearance. At that point, you have exposed your visual self to another person and vice versa. By exposing your visual self, you are able to show some part of your cultural identity through your mannerisms.
Assume that everyone in the world becomes accustomed to using face time as a form of normal communication. People become connected globally and their physical mannerisms are visually exposed. At that point, the tangible “you” becomes exposed to the tangible “friend” you have in another country. This will create a web of friendships throughout the world that are visually exposed and may pick up the mannerisms of each other. The world will become a gigantic mixing bowl, one where each person maintains one’s own identity, but is exposed to and, hopefully, respects the identity of someone with a different culture.
Although technology has been blamed for a lot of the physical social dysfunction that we face, such as sending an email rather than walking over to your supervisor’s office to ask a question, it has the potential to bring a lot of positive outcomes to society. I think that it can help expose people to aspects of other cultures that they would normally not be able to see, primarily through the face time type of communication. Face timing would never be able to replace the social benefits of physical social interactions, but it is better than making a regular phone call.