Every Sunday as many as 14 family members over 4 generations —from 1 to 101-years-old — in six cities gather virtually to visit and hangout. They use Zoom’s video conferencing platform. Although designed mainly for business meetings, it is a remarkably intimate way to connect with family and friends. They share news, jokes, opinions, and concerns, discuss movies or politics, and to visit with newborn grandchildren who aren’t yet up to chatting. It feels like everyone is in the same space. (This clan takes a laissez-faire, no-guilt approach to the weekly meetings. Whomever can make it is great. )
Bringing together a big gaggle of family is not the only alt-use for business conferencing apps. Last New Year’s Eve, a friend home-bound with multiple sclerosis brought in the New Year with two dear friends in distant cities, each with a glass of champagne.
We talk about our work. We bitch and gossip. We discuss what we’re making for dinner. We trade recipes and opinions on theater, movies, and ask if a singer we heard on the radio is still alive. And we drink. Short 15-minute chats allow for just one cocktail. But longer 45-minute, intense talks mean two drinks.
Among the various video conferencing software, from Skype to Google Hangouts, I’ve come to prefer Zoom for its ease of use and great clear visuals. A 40-minute “meeting” with up to 100 participants is free. If you time out, you can simply reconnect and keep on talking. And you can record each session.
Your “clan” can be any and many.