Today I called my dad on Skype. It’s something I do often, but this time around it got me thinking… and trying to imagine what my life would have been like if such a service had been an option back when I was growing up. You see, I grew up basically half a world away from most of my family. In those days even an international phone call was a luxury, and I remember that almost as soon as I was old enough to write, writing a letter to my grandparents became an integral part of my Sunday routine. I would write a letter, have one of my parents proof it to make sure I wasn’t mentioning anything I wasn’t supposed to, and then I would write the envelope (the hope was that the fact that it was a child’s scrawl would get the letter past the post office unopened… let’s just say that there was a reason I was living half a world away from my grandparents, and leave it at that). In time phone calls became less expensive and the letter-writing fell by the wayside, but the thing is that in a way my grandparents, to say nothing of some of my aunts, uncles and cousins, remained virtual strangers (a phone call to my grandparents was a luxury, a phone call to my cousins was unthinkable).
My grandparents are gone now, and none of them ever got to use a computer at all. As for the rest of my family, we have made some efforts to reconnect over the years, but the truth is that (at least as far as I was concerned) by the time computers came along, too long had passed. Most of them were (and some of them still are) names without faces, so I wonder what Skype would have meant for my family back then. I don’t know, I can only imagine.