Phone vs. VideoChat

It's all about the imaginaire, the space in which we interact. The phone space, where we interact disembodied but with voice immediacy, is familiar to us all. I'm more than used to it, and use it without impediment. We go there, to that vast imaginaire, in conversation. Admittedly, the phone conference or three way calling is a bit disturbing to this one-on-one imaginaire space, and requires adjustment. But basically, this phone process works well.

Now the Video Chat space is entirely different. We think of this as the promised videophone of the past, and perhaps it is. It has been in our thinking, but we are unprepared for the shock of the presence of the other person in the phone space. Hey wait a minute, it isn't at all the phone space.

It is a new and other imaginaire. Here we meet, the voice is part of the communication, but the image is another major influence. We share images of one another, and almost entertain each other, showing things to one another. It is a communal space, anyone wandering by can participate, or sit in. Even if you are listening to the conversation on earphones, the conversation is not as private as on the phone. Maybe all this just takes getting used to. The eyes are looking down at the image, not directly into the camera. Connecting by looking at the camera means missing the image of the person you are looking at. Then there is the restlessness. Here we sit, facing each other, talking or showing each other things. Now what? With the imaginaire being fairly shallow, hardly developed enough to hold the richness of the kind of nonverbal communication that the phone actually offers, we are held in superficiality by the power of the image. Then, a breakthrough – you find you are right there in the shared space together. The medium has finally given way, and the contact is immediate, full, nuanced, complete. That's why we do it: it can be much more close than the phone ever could. And face it, the mediation can be fun too! 


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