I never thought I would be satisfied with FaceTime as a completely connected visit…but now I am. It wasn’t like that back in March.
Every time I would talk to my kids on FaceTime or Zoom I would think…. Is this how we are going to visit? When will I see them real time? But at the same time, during each call I felt surprisingly uplifted seeing them on my beloved screen. I just couldn’t imagine not being able to be together and connect without a scheduled visit with thousands of miles between us but that’s exactly what’s been happening over these past 6 months.
It would seem that because not all of our senses are being accessed through FaceTime one would feel unsatisfied by a digital visit. I mean hearing and seeing are the two senses that we engage when FaceTiming. What about the rest of the senses, touch, smell and taste? How does this all work that one could be satisfied without the other senses being accessed?
Seeing the people you know on your screen, whether they’re coworkers, friends, or family, will activate your brain in the same way as seeing them in the flesh. Humans love seeing other faces; our brains develop the ability to recognize and respond to faces at as young as five months old. A study published in Neurology in 2019 found that there are particular parts of the visual cortex devoted to scanning and interpreting the faces of others, including their emotions. Social interaction of all kinds is crucial to brain health, but visual contact with others appears to be particularly good for us.
It’s unimaginable that 6 months has passed since I’ve seen my kids. Sadly, where they live on the West Coast has not been a recommended destination to visit from Massachusetts during this pandemic. I would be out there in a nano, to see my kids’ new home, and especially to see and hold my new grand baby who was born this summer. But, because I would have to quarantine we have been waiting for her to be a little bigger and for us all to feel better about flying.
However, here’s the good news….I’m grateful for FaceTime. Seeing my new grand baby on FaceTime and listening to my son and daughter-in-law interact with her, and hearing her small beautiful sounds has been incredible. I have fallen in love with her digitally. I love to watch her hang out and coo. I love to watch my kids become parents. I love to watch my kids embrace their new home life. I love to listen and talk with them whenever it works for them. And it’s usually a few times a day. I never thought I would say I feel lucky about that but I do.
Remarkably, the kids have been so good at calling and I have seen my granddaughter every day since she was born. I have watched her grow and grow over the past 6 weeks and it has truly been a gift. My adrenaline surges and my heart pounds during these FaceTimes and I am on cloud nine. How can this be?
Apparently there is such a thing as digital intimacy. I just never thought it would be satisfying but it truly is. Thank goodness we humans are so adaptable.
If you ever told me that I would not see my grand baby until she is 3 months old I would have told you I couldn’t manage that. But now I can.
Alas, this is just a slice of what life looks like during a Pandemic but I refuse to say this is the new normal. It’s just a very long moment in time.