I live in Massachusetts; my brother and mom live in northern and southern California, respectively. And yet, all three of us were able to “hang out” together for Mom’s birthday, thanks to the group video chat that is Google Hangouts. Thank you, technology, for enabling the off-key singing of “Happy Birthday”!
In all seriousness, though, there is much talk about whether technology in general and social media in particular bring people together and foster closeness, or whether, conversely, they increase isolation and only foster shallow ties. I won’t speak about Facebook or Twitter (or Pinterest, or Instagram, or Tumblr, or…), but video chat – through Google Hangouts, Skype, or another service – is truly amazing. When you can’t be face-to-face, it’s the next best thing.