358/366 – Holiday Teching With Family

If there’s anything that’s motivated some of my tech-phobic family to adopt some of the more modern tools needed these days to keep in touch, it’s the fact that the holiday offers with it a better way for family members to contact one another and chat. Where years before had slow-traveling letters and costly long-distance phone calls for keeping tabs on distant family members during one of the most family-oriented holidays of the year, nowadays there are so many tools and devices that help accomplish this.

The best part about this kind of benefit that tech delivers is that there’s a ton of variety to accompany  how you want to get to those family members that can’t be with you for the holiday. Video calls can be handled by Skype (and now by Curse and other competitors). Livestreaming is possible with the technology that Twitch has to offer along with the ISP infrastructure and bandwidth to accommodate it. Smart phones can handle video calls as well as traditional audio, and the cost is greatly reduced by using both competitive calling and international plans as well as the tech to talk to people in other ways. It’s become not just a matter of if the technology exists but when it becomes available and used by a variety of people.

This kind of family contact was something that to be fair came incrementally rather than all at once. We had the better calling plans first, then some of the better audio technology, then the first forays into video calling by only a few select devices, and now just about anything and everything with video capability being able to be used. The result and the benefits are obvious – longer, visual-assisted talks with loved ones and family, the ability to contact them at any time and with the push of a couple buttons, and shared moments that, while not as good as someone actually being there, are nevertheless a decent enough substitute for holiday togetherness.

If anything, this teaches us that technological advancement isn’t necessarily all about the big, cool stuff that enables people to do amazing, attention-grabbing things, but for the small moments, the intimate occasions that require a bit of tech in order to have them be more than just communicated via word of mouth or through scratchy, low-quality audio.  While there’s always going to be a morals or ethics element to the debate of when and where technology might have gone too far in terms of progress, I’d hope that that kind of question isn’t up for debate when itt comes to the subject of spending time with or talking to your family or the people you care about. In this respect, the more that can be done, the merrier the holiday will certainly be.


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