Live video carries risks

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Recently some fellow oldsters and I were reminiscing about the good old days (aka the 1980s). I remember when calling my grandparents who lived less than an hour north of us was a long-distance telephone call.

I would get my bath and be bundled into my muppet pajamas to wait for the magical times when “the rates would change.” Then, if we were lucky, the call would go through and we could chat with the grandparents but not too long.

Letting your fingers do the walking cost a pretty penny. Sometimes we got a busy signal. The wait to dial again seemed interminable. The best part of this entire reminiscence?

My children had no idea what I was talking about. Long distance rates? Certain dates and times?

An old phone

Busy signals? My kids found an old rotary dial phone once. They poked at the holes in the phone like monkeys. They had no idea how a dial telephone worked. Of course, my glory in knowing more than they did about telephone technology didn’t last long.

My children grew up in the smartphone era. Although they did exist before cell phones were in every hand, I guarantee you they don’t remember those rugged pioneer times. To them, mobile phones have always been part of their daily lives.

Although my quaint memories of long-distance and busy signals clearly pre-date cellular technology, I like to think I’m pretty savvy overall. I use my phone for almost everything. Reading, writing, and arithmetic, portable television, music collection, map, list maker, recipe planner, communication, a mild LoJack on my family members, and so much more.

My children are so used to modern ways that they use their mobile phones in ways that never occur to me. It is nothing for me to wander into a room in our home and hear “Hi Mrs. Seabolt!” coming from the phone Girlwonder has nearby.

FaceTime video allows her friends to be on hand and in our home through the magic of technology. Video calls are the kind of crazy futuristic hijinks seen on “The Jetsons.” Now it’s a regular happening in our home.

It’s really cut down on us wandering around in our underwear, I tell you.

Getting sleep

The other night I worked a long day and climbed into my cozy bed to enjoy a little light reading on my phone before dozing off. At least that was the plan. I remember climbing in bed, I remember holding my phone, and I remember thinking I should check Facebook real quick just to see what was up in the world at large.

The next thing I knew my phone was ringing at 1:30 a.m.

I yanked the phone out from under Mr. Wonderful’s pillow where it had migrated. I heard the voice of a colleague where it had somehow migrated. I answered, puzzled, to hear a co-worker explaining that the only reason she was calling me at 1:30 a.m. in the morning was because our work-related Facebook page had been live streaming a video of pitch black darkness and snoring for about 40 minutes, give or take.

Embarrassing moment

Apparently, we had hit the live video button on Facebook and been broadcasting from under Mr. Wonderful’s pillow! It is both horrifying and hysterical.

The comments on the video of darkness were hilarious. Most poked fun at themselves for watching utter nothing for so long.

Others felt certain it was an intentional act. It’s a real experience in societal behavior that up to 70 people spent time staring at a dark screen wondering what they were seeing yet afraid to stop watching for fear of missing something.

One person went so far as to call it the most brilliant marketing idea they’d ever seen. I think that was reaching, but I appreciate the vote of confidence. I now sleep with the phone stashed face down and far away.

I still don’t quite trust it. Meanwhile, we picked up quite a few followers with the live video of absolutely nothing. As for an encore, I’m sure I will get lazy and careless again. Look forward to exciting future production such as “12 minutes of pocket” and “live feed of the coffee table.”

Of course, the real shock is that today a telephone and a slip of a finger can broadcast your activities to the world. Fortunately, we were sound asleep in the dark. I think of all the times I’ve tucked my phone inside my shirt when I didn’t have a pocket and I shudder to imagine the lives I could have scarred had the camera gone live then.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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