Happiness was celebrating Easter with our whanau, from around New Zealand, on Zoom. Having all of us together chatting away, sharing news and telling a few anecdotes, albeit in a virtual room was wonderful.
Until this pandemic started, I had never heard of Zoom. But when our local Community Arts Centre had to go into lockdown, we the trustees had to meet online with our manager to make some very tough decisions. So, I managed to download it. At our first meeting everyone else’s faces appeared on the screen, only mine was a black square. And being a Zoom newbie, I was not sure about the protocol of how to join in the conversation (does one need to press a button, or what!? I kept quiet and remained the ghost in the room.
A quick call to my daughter that evening to ask for some coaching meant that now I can Zoom with confidence. It wasn’t too difficult at all.
During lockdown staying in touch with relations and friends has been my lifeline and made the days pass more quickly. Each has their favourite app for staying connected, so I have been busily downloading these.
My granddaughters use Skype. But when I downloaded it a lady with a foreign sounding name kept butting in wanting to be my friend. Could it be a scam? Just to be on the safe side I remove the app from my computer.
Instead, we can keep in touch by phoning each other through Messenger on Facebook. And we use Instagram to post photographs with witty captions.
One of my sisters suggests she and I should connect on WhatsApp. She uses it frequently to stay in touch with her children and grandchildren, especially when travelling. I’m easily persuaded and soon a steady stream of photos, little videos and captions follow. It’s fun!
More invitations to Zoom keep popping up! Even my gym (at which I am a very infrequent attender) invites me to daily Zoom session. Before too long, I am at risk of connectivity overload. I have to draw a line and get choosy about who I Zoom with and how often.
I am not going to download any more apps like Facetime, Houseparty, Snapchat and Marco Polo. Enough is enough! But aren’t we incredibly fortunate to have so many ways to keep in touch with our whanau and friends?
I take a walk down memory lane to the 1950s when my parents arrived from Holland with 7 children. Staying in touch with their family back home was so much harder and expensive. For years my mother dutifully wrote a weekly aerogramme to the grandparents to pass on any family news. And there would be a very occasional phone call on a crackly line which never lasted more than 3 minutes, after that the costs went up substantially. Just once a year we all stood beside a tape recorder to create a Christmas message and sing a Christmas carol. The tape was duly sent off well beforehand as by ship it would take at least 6 weeks. For us children, as the years went by, our grandparents became distant strangers which must have been really hard for them. We never got to see them again.
The only time we can connect briefly with real people, while keeping the required 2 metre distance, is on our daily walks around the neighbourhood. It feels strange to think that what was until recently just a walk around the block is now hailed as an activity that contributes to our collective sense of wellbeing.
Yesterday was the first time since lockdown started that we got into our car. Oh my goodness! What has our world come to when driving to our local medical centre to get a flu jab felt like a real treat!
Afterwards, back in our bubble, there is reassuring news from our PM at her daily briefing that there is light at the end of the tunnel, although we are by no means out of the woods. We live in hope!
Reviews by Lyn Potter
Parent and grandparent, Avid traveler, writer & passionate home cook