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post #671
bio: jen

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Beyond the Dune Sea

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Video Chat

When I was a child, computer screens were only two colors filled with words, so video chat was a really cool thing from the world of science fiction. I love that scene in Empire Strikes Back when the Imperial Fleet came out of hyperspace too close to Hoth, so the rebels were alerted to Empire's presence. Darth Vader used a video chat to choke the Admiral Ozzel and promote Captain Piett. Adminiral Ozzel had failed him for the last time. The dark side of the Force is powerful even over video chat.

Since the start of the pandemic, I have done some video chatting, and okay, I'm going to say it, I do not like it. Sure, video chatting is here now. Sure, it is a good way to connect and actually see someone. However. . .

Once the initial moment of wonder that we are actually looking at another human being wears off, I find it kind of boring. I'd rather talk on the phone or text. I don't know why people need to see me. I definitely don't like looking at myself in the lower corner of the screen. I get extremely self-conscious and the art house cinema fan in me takes over. Which side is my good side? Should I wear my hair up or down? Is my face really that asymmetrical?

I also find myself critiquing how other people frame themselves. Some folks have their camera above their faces, so there is a lot of forehead in the shot. Some folks have the camera under their faces, so there is a lot of chin action. Some have a bright light source behind them, so the face is in shadow.

The backgrounds are interesting. I have realized that everyone pretty much has the same basic house. There are walls, plants, books, windows, drapes. Some folks like to add a background, and that's all very special effects. I chat with a lot of sailors and I like the boat/ocean backgrounds. One friend uses a beach background, and I worry about sand getting into her laptop even though I know the sand is virtual.

Realizing that I didn't want to look at myself as I was, I raided the Halloween box and found funny wigs and hats. I wore a witch hat on one social chat and that made me happy. I've even thought of putting certificates and pictures up on the wall behind me. It would be something to look at instead of me.

Recently, I went to a memorial service via video chat. I was surprised to find myself moved by the experience. Anyone who wanted to say something about the person could speak. If the memorial was not held on video chat, half the people attending would not be able to celebrate the lovely person no longer with us. It did not matter where we were. We were able to come together when it mattered.

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