I saw my parents for the first time since I left Brazil yesterday...on Skype. I am a big fan of Skype, having learnt how to use it only a few months ago. I love how the video chat function instantly brings home to me all the familiar features and gestures of the people I love - my father's quizzical eyes, my mother's alert, amused look, my sister's playful asides...
The funny thing about Sykpe though, is that we often spend more time looking at ourselves than at each other. That little box in the corner is far too fascinating to ignore. I often catch myself glancing down at the box at the end of a sentence, surprised by the way I look when I say something. While chatting with my mom yesterday, I noticed her peering down at her reflection, checking for stray crumbs from the toast she'd been having. My sister once got ready to go out for lunch during a Skype chat - the video, it seems, was even better than a mirror.
One may see these actions as narcissistic, and perhaps they are...to an extent. It is human nature, after all, to be a little preoccupied with oneself - right from the moment when we first recognize our mirror image in childhood, the journey towards self-absorption and representation begins. After all, who doesn't look for themselves first in a group picture or blush bashfully at a compliment?
In the context of Skype, I actually find this 'checking out' of oneself endearing and intimate - it makes me feel, even more, that I am there with the people I love. But maybe I'll try closing the little box next time.