Don’t Look At Me When I’m Talking To You!

Are we really ready for iPhone 4’s Facetime video chat?

Facetime

4 on 4: today’s my fourth day using my new iPhone 4.  I still haven’t used one of the most talked about features, Apple’s “Facetime” -- iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 video chat.  I don’t know who to call, when to call, or really why to call. In fact, now that I have the new toy, I wonder how much Facetime I really want.

Here’s the inherent problem with video chat: if you can see me, you can see what I’m doing while I’m on the phone with you.  And during a regular call, what I'm doing is multitasking.  It must be annoying when you're trying to have an important conversation with me and you hear me stealth typing in the background.  But even worse, on a video call, I’ll have to

look at you

.

Can I answer a call, but “Ignore” the video chat?  There are plenty of times where I’m happy to talk, but I’m not camera-ready.  How do I say that I want to

hear

you, I just don’t want to

see

you?  What message does that send?

Would it be weird if you were on a Facetime call with me, and the image of my face kept getting blurred by my oversized thumbs filling the screen as I try to respond to a text message while we speak?  I hope not, because I don’t have time to do one thing at a time anymore.

Hmmm... Maybe this is what I need.  Maybe Facetime forces me to be more present.  Stops me from multitasking.  If I can’t also watch the TV on mute while we chat, I’ll be forced to give you my undivided attention.  Instead of me phoning in our phone calls, I’ll have to give you

actual

face time.  Maybe I will get less errands done during the day, but in it’s place I’ll actually remember that story you told me about your boss.  Maybe Facetime is like getting together for coffee; I can’t multitask, because you can see me.  It’s more of a commitment to our relationship.  If I’m going to answer a Facetime call, I’m making a non-verbal agreement to give you my undivided attention.  Although, do I really have time to grab coffee 10 times a day?  I’m going to have to prioritize my Facetime.Am I ready to step up my relationships with video chat?  I’m not sure.  But even with 3 million phones sold in 3 weeks, no one has yet tried to Facetime me.  Maybe I won’t have to limit my Facetime, maybe Darwin will.