It was on a fine Saturday morning that I felt that our only 8-year-old son, Aron needs a companion to talk and discuss about his affairs. So, I thought why not have a WhatsApp call with my brother’s two sons, Alan and Evan who are 11 years and 8 years. A video call was initiated on WhatsApp and the kids started interacting with each other so intimately, which otherwise would not have happened. How often do you connect with your family members who are residing abroad?
It is a fact those kids have a world of their own which we cannot understand or comprehend. When the call was going on, the elder kid suggested that Zoom video call was a better option than WhatsApp because it can be done through a laptop on a larger screen and it has better ways to control the call options. His idea might have come up because the kids are going through online classes, and they have become quite familiar with the computer world. Within a few minutes, we turned our call into a Zoom video call asking our kid’s parents and grandparents to join. It became a wider audience and we felt happy about it.
Shortly, as my father was from the previous generation, his thought went to include his family members. He immediately gave a ring and asked his nephews to join the call, that is our cousins who are in their 20s and 30s. The members in the video call increased slowly. As it was not a planned call, we discussed what was coming into our minds and thoughts.
Some screenshots were taken in this first trial call, and it was posted in our WhatsApp group. This created an interest among other group members who mentioned that they missed this opportunity.
Therefore, we decided to have a plan to make this happen better as the first one was just a trial. In this first attempt as it was an instant meeting, there were difficulties in logging to the applications and it was ambiguous how to switch on the audio options and the video options. Some of them tried with their mobiles, while some tried with their tabs and others with their laptops. Some informed that they were familiar with the ‘Google Meet’ than the Zoom App.
The real sense of belonging was felt because during this period of lock down no one is quite able to meet their friends, relatives or neighbors. This carved a new path to initiate an ‘Online Family Meet’ with more close uncles, aunties, and cousins. The following week was planned to have a better video call with everyone in the group, and it was kept on a fine Saturday at 11 AM.
It was informed in the WhatsApp group and the invite link, meeting ID, and the pass code to log in were shared. Even this time Zoom App was considered because the performance was smooth with minimum internet bandwidth, user-friendly options and it comes free of charge. Also, it is easy to set up a personal meeting link in Zoom where anyone can join directly with just the invite.
The second get-together was an international one and since everyone had their own important and busy things to do on a Saturday, it was reminded by my father to give a phone call asking everyone to attend the call in time. Most of them were intimated over phone calls and they showed their eagerness and enthusiasm to participate.
The video call topic was titled ‘Online Family Meet 2021’ to impress our family members. I joined a couple of minutes before the scheduled time. I did not expect that everyone would be punctual, but beyond my expectations, most of them turned up within the first 5 minutes of the call.
Since a few were new to the Zoom App they were instructed to turn on their audio and video options. Some had interruptions in their video calls because they were in their villages where the internet bandwidth is not up to the mark.
Our family is in Bengaluru city and has an internet bandwidth of 200 Mbps since we need to meet the project work from home and our son must attend the online classes. However, to get a better experience and seamless connectivity, it is recommended to have at least 100 Mbps internet speed at home.
The members in the video call felt quite joyful when they connected with every other family member. It was a surprise for some as they were finding it difficult to identify the persons in the call. A couple of them were having long-haired, long-bearded heads and myself with the shaved head. The new looks gave new feelings about the person who he used to be in the past.
The international video call went for about an hour with fun-filled talks, songs, and exciting thoughts on the wellness of everyone in the meeting. No specific agenda or programs were planned during the call. Not everyone was comfortable handling the video call because they were not sure how to operate the call options on the screen.
However, the interactions were quite natural and pleasing among the group. This opened a new door of combined feelings and emotions over the digital era. This gives a thought when one door closes, there opens another door of opportunities. Lockdown has closed our physical doors but has opened the digital doors.
The truth is “Do not look on his appearance or the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” One Samuel 16:7
During this lockdown and due to the reason that we are located at different places, it is essential that we at least connect through our online platforms to refresh, rejoice and re-connect with our close and dear ones.
Nowadays, people think that such video calls are intended for official purposes and it is only for the educated class of communities. This digital generation will see more and more advancements in the field of technology, and it will be a common media where get-togethers can be easily organized, better arranged, and coordinated sensibly. It creates a feeling of family attachment and removes unnecessary fears and anxieties that might build because of idle time.
A few of our family members involve either in their work or studies on a Saturday. Hence, there is one more planned international video call to be conducted on the following Sunday. Hopefully, it will be a better one, not in terms of the number of people but in terms of the quality time that will be spent in the ‘Online Family Meet.’
I would suggest you can also conduct such video calls together with your cousins and relatives who are put up in different parts of the world.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, and all those who have directly or indirectly helped to make this happen.
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