In every situation in life, there's always a way to make a tit of yourself
Which would be called the Awkward Guide to Skype but in the interests of not getting sued is called the Awkward Guide to Videocalls instead.
There is something about the addition of two laptops and a few hundred or thousand miles that can increase the awkwardness of any conversation almost exponentially. Possibly because, unlike talking on the phone, when there are uncomfortable lulls all you can do is sit and stare at each other or pretend that something has just fallen off your desk that you must instantly retrieve and disappear from view.
When these tumble-weed moments happen in a face-to-face conversation you can simply feign an overwhelming interest in something out of the window, like a passing dog or a particularly vivacious squirrel. Alas, that doesn’t really work with videocalls because specifically calling someone to then sit in silence and stare at a squirrel would be frankly a little bit weird, although not without it’s appeal.
So here, handily written down so that we don’t have to attempt to talk about it, are the four most bothersome aspects of trying to talk to someone when there’s video involved.
1. The fact that you can see yourself in a little box in the corner of the screen. It’s far too easy to get completely distracted by this and end up seemingly having a very animated conversation with yourself. Admittedly this is something I do quite a lot of anyway but it’s probably best not to reinforce the delusion with the use of technology.
2. The fact that the internet is involved. The pesky internet will conspire to freeze the video feed and interrupt you mid devastatingly erudite flow about your flawless plan to simultaneously end world hunger, save the polar ice caps and get everyone to agree that nuclear armament is probably a bit of a bad idea (or, more likely, mid devastatingly erudite flow about how you had a really confusing dream about noodles last night).
Either way, your conversational partner will be left staring at what appears to be a picture of you about to sneeze, wink and take a large bite out of something at the same time and so they totally won’t be able to concentrate on what you’re saying about the plight of the polar bears and/or noodle-based peril. Which is really a shame for everyone involved, especially the polar bears.
3. The internet also likes to get involved sometimes by causing a delay at one end, meaning that you end up talking over each other, answering a question they actually asked five minutes ago, and wondering why they just stared at you blankly when you told them about that fascinating noodle dream (although that last one may not be solely to do with the internet connection).
However, there is one up-side to this – you can pretend you’re a BBC correspondent attempting to do a spectacularly backfiring live report from somewhere a long way away.
4. When a group of people, your family for instance, attempt to gather round the same computer to speak to you and you can’t actually tell what any of them are saying so the whole exercise is fairly pointless but it’s tremendously sporting of them to try anyway.
The Awkward Guide accepts no responsibility for adverse reactions to the implementation of advice supplied herein. Side-effects can include: smug laughter, mild disdain, and temporary irritation.