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With their new program, Skype, all they want to do is commandeer all the phones in the world.
Equipped with boyish energy and one lazy eye each, the partners divide their days among London, Luxembourg, and subzero Estonia, where Skype rolls out—with very little overhead and without that Silicon Valley chatter.
t is an interesting question &mdash what one tries to do, in writing a letter &mdash partly of course to give back a reflection of the other person.” So wrote tireless correspondent Virginia Woolf to her friend Gerald Brenan, on October 4, 1929. Couples don’t have to contend with their different standards of cleanliness when they only meet in cyberspace; they don’t have to fight over who’s going to take out the garbage or who forgot to return the DVD.
Now all it takes to capture an accurate reflection of someone far away is a Skype account. And while they might not have a warm body to snuggle up to at night, they know they are still there for each other. Skype may not be taking our communication into the future so much as revisiting the past &mdash the Romantic era, when snail mail arrived several times a day. In another century, John Donne wrote these lines to his wife: Skype encourages us to sustain and possibly deepen our relationships across vast distances.
But because Skype is free, and if my partner is available and so am I, the logic goes, we should be talking . Even when there is nothing to say, I find it difficult to say goodbye. Its popularity is no mystery: anyone can download the software for free, and talk to anyone else with Skype, anywhere in the world, also for free. (Skype makes most of its money from people who “Skype Out,” buying credit that lets them Skype land lines or mobiles for as little as 2.1 cents a minute.) The technology has created a wave of Skype Love, which means millions of romantic partners around the world can live in different cities, countries, and time zones and not actually be separated, as long as they have a computer with an Internet connection, a microphone, and a webcam. It was in the middle of the fourth month apart that we discovered a novel approach: Scrabulous and Skype. The woman in this video explains how she once woke up her boyfriend when she was having a nightmare. We discovered new possibilities for long-distance intimacy . The sound quality is not always the best &mdash it ranges from a cut above the telephone to echoey or garbled &mdash but there is something comforting in its retrograde tinniness (like jazz on a crackly LP). He adds that she likes being able to see him go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. A friend wrote me, “[Skype] added a bit of erotic juice to things . Skype was created in 2003 by the same Danish and Swedish entrepreneurs and Estonian software developers who created Kazaa (a file-sharing program similar to Napster). I found it difficult to return to the tedious and unnerving everyday. The emotional muck of “relationship” conversations could be avoided, and the tedium of “How was your day, sweetie? Since then, Skype has taken the communications world by storm: as of April 2008, it had more than 309 million registered accounts. I was neither alone, with the compensations of perfect solitude, nor with my warm-blooded partner. ” could be replaced by an X here, an O there, and some good, healthy competition. In one You Tube interview, a couple talks about how they sleep with their laptops in bed, each under the gaze of their respective cameras.
The image of my girlfriend’s face and the familiar environment &mdash her piles of poetry, her thick Lithuanian dictionary, a white tunic she bought in Rajasthan &mdash conjure up so many other sensory associations (her smell, her touch) that sometimes I feel we’re in the same room. The Skyper is forced to look at his partner, undistracted (unless he’s busy surfing the Net), and to listen closely to her words; it could be argued that this form of long-distance connection is more intense than face-to-face conversation. [it] makes you talk more deliberately, and not respond so quickly to what the other person is saying.” Skype encourages us to be present, to get to know each other, and become close through conversation. She: It’s not like we’re really saying anything important right now.