Skype and Video Calls with Friends and Clients

YEARS AGO when I first heard that one day we'd be able to see one another when we talked on the telephone, my first thought was, "I'm not sure I want to be seen on the phone." Well, my sisters gifted me with a webcam for Christmas 2012 so we could begin to do video calls ... and this is just one more bit of new technology for me that I love.

So many people I care about are separated from me by great distances, but those who have a computer with a webcam and Skype can now communicate with me face-to-face no matter where they are. I'm having trouble getting some of my older friends to embrace this technology, however. As one of them told me, "I don't want to be seen by anyone most days. I've even stipulated that I want a closed casket."

Today's laptops all come with a built-in webcam, but desktop computers without them are no problem. Adding an external Logitech webcam is very inexpensive easy to install, so as we all grow older and lose our ability or desire to travel long distances to see friends or relatives, I see this as a wonderful way to communicate face-to-face. Of course a webcam is also a wonderful business tool.

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Im available professionally to writers and authors and home-business owners who wish to consult with me via Skype/Webcam. See this page for more information about this.

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NOTE THAT I TALK VIA SKYPE only when I can't connect with a friend or client using my free long-distance service, and I do video calls only by appointment because, like many others who work at home, there are times when I don't want anyone except my sisters to see me in the ratty old clothes I love to work in, or when my hair's a mess and I don't look my best.

I'm now enjoying weekly chats with my sisters and a couple of friends in Canada, one of whom I grew up with in Buckley, Illinois and haven't seen in decades.

My time for personal chats is always limited, but if you consider yourself a personal friend of mine and have a webcam and Skype, let me know because I'd love to meet you face-to-face some day when we both have time for some personal conversation.


Copyright 2015 by Barbara Brabec. All rights reserved.

Living in the Age of
Electronic Friendships

by Barbara Brabec

A reminder of all the personal and business friends you have now that you never would have had if you hadn't begun to correspond by email, opened a website, started a blog, or got active on one or more social networking sites.

The Internet: A Dramatic Life Changer

IN LOOKING BACK to when I launched Barbara Brabec's World in 2000, I remember that I didn't have a clue about where this kind of Internet presence would lead me, nor could I imagine all the doors of opportunity the World Wide Web would eventually open for me. In fact, I knew little or nothing about the Internet, and prior to opening my own site, I saw it as one of the greatest time-wasters ever invented. Actually, given how much time some people do waste surfing the Web (myself included) and forwarding emails loaded with copyrighted content (which I never do out of respect to the author or artist), I wasn't exactly wrong.

In the beginning, I hoped I could enhance my professional image by having my own website, and I certainly accomplished that goal. But what I never imagined back in 2000 was how being active on the Web would enrich my life by constantly connecting me to new people, many of whom would become clients, helpful business associates, and personal friends. Without being active on any social network, I've met countless people from all walks of life all over the world, usually after an individual's keyword search has brought them to one of my websites or a particular article on them.

Naturally, many of my email meetings are short-lived and brief, but quite often the people who contact me for either business or personal reasons end up in my address book as friends, and I couldn't begin to tally all the hours I've spent in communicating with all these people . . . but that goes with the territory if one is interested in building lasting personal or business relationships.

Prior to getting on the Web, I communicated with my subscribers and friends the old fashioned way . . . by phone sometimes, but mostly with typed letters sent by mail. I wrote and received thousands upon thousands of letters between 1971 and 2000, keeping copies of most of my letters and many I received. Today I file printed copies of my most interesting email exchanges and also save some electronically because this is HISTORY to me, history that I'm now recycling into my eBook writing.

Friends I'll Never Meet in Person

I AM UNLIKELY to ever meet in person most of the individuals I've met on the Web and now communicate with by email or phone, but that doesn't matter. What matters are the friendships themselves, and how they enrich my life for however long they last.

Allow me to tell you about the kind of interesting people I've met just because I'm on the Web. Because of my books and the research I've done for them by letter, email, and phone through the years, I have made lasting friendships with a number of individuals in both the home-business and arts and crafts industries.

I've also had many an interesting conversation or email exchange with individuals in other industries and professions, including scientists, dieticians, corporate executives, pastors, attorneys, and even a judge. Because I've recently changed directions as a writer, most of my email and phone calls today are coming from writers, authors, and self-publishers. It's hard for me to put into words the joy I've had in helping a first-time author publish his or her first book and then continuing the friendship that developed during that process.

One of the first authors I helped was Shawn Smith, who is now like a son to me because of the help and support he gave me after my husband died. Because he lived in my area when we first met, this was one electronic friendship that soon developed into a very close personal one, with many visits and lots of good conversation and laughter together until he married and moved a few hours away. Our in-person visits now are few and far between, but we've worked together since 2005 to get two of his books published.

 Because of the series of articles I wrote after I was widowed in 2005, I often hear from new widows who are grieving the loss of a loved one and looking for any kind of hope and encouragement they can get. Counseling them is part of my little Christian ministry on the Web, and this "work" has been emotionally helpful not only to those who are grieving, but to me as well. This message from one of those widows illustrates my point. Jill wrote:

"About a year a half ago I wrote to you regarding the depression I was going through after my husband's death, I just couldn't function. Everything you had said was 'right on the mark,' and you made me feel like I wasn't going crazy and I wasn't losing my mind. Thank You, you will always be in my heart and my prayers."

Because of the memoir I wrote about my life with a drummer named Harry, I've met some very interesting musicians. For example, a while back I was contacted by Leticia Bal, a Latin percussionist and marimbist in Holland who had found a page on my personal domain about my memoir and my experience as a professional marimbist in the sixties. She then featured me on her website because I was doing something unique in the fifties similar to what she does now, which is perform in concert and provide easy listening music on a marimba. It was so nice to be recognized by her for something I did so many years ago. Links on this page will connect you to some of Leticia's unusual marimba music.

Because of the WordPress site I set up in 2010 as a companion to my memoir, The Drummer Drives!, I made several new electronic friendships with people who knew or worked with my late husband, from old school chums to Chicago Symphony musicians who shared stories about him I'd never heard before. I also wrote several articles about my communications with some of these musicians, and others contributed articles to the site. (The website is now closed, but some articles from it are now on this domain.)

Take George Edwards, for example, a drummer in Japan who once took a marimba lesson from Harry in the sixties and then found me after I'd published my memoir. After George and I had a few entertaining email exchanges, I took delight in linking him to one of Harry's former students from his Walt Disney days, and now these two drummers have forged a special friendship on the Web. My electronic friendship with George has become more enjoyable since we began to chat occasionally on Skype

November 2014 update: I decided to close this nostalgic Chicago music history website in November, 2014 because I could no longer justify the time to solicit or post new articles or maintain the site. I plan to republish selected articles from the site here on Barbara Brabec's World and perhaps publish the rest of the content in a free eBook as time allows.

Because I now know so many people, I often encounter two people I know who need to know one another, and it always gives me a kick when I'm able to connect then. For example, take Adam Kolczynski, an independent publisher in the UK, and Andrew Drage, an author in Australia. After both of them found me through different avenues, I could see that they were a match made in heaven. It wasn't long afterwards that I received autographed copies of Andrew's books published through Adam's self-publishing division of "Thanks for your advice and making this possible," Andrew had inscribed.

Ah ... the sweet connections that are now possible, thanks to the Internet. Surfing the Web and communicating electronically may take a lot of our time each day, but our lives have become infinitely richer because of the many electronic friendships weve been able to forge as a result.

Living on the Web After Were Gone

IN ADDITION TO MAKING NEW FRIENDSHIPS, one of the really nice things about having a presence on the Web is that we may live there long after we're gone, provided we've left the right information with our heirs as to how to access our websites, blogs, and other "Internet property," and what to do with that property in our absence.

Publishing an eBook on Amazon is now the closest thing to immortality that I know of because only the author or his/her heirs can remove an eBook from Amazon's product pages. To my regret, however, Amazon won't let anyone remove an old outdated print book because there will always be used book sellers claiming to have a copy. Thus every old edition of my home business books will live on ... and on ... and on ... waiting for anyone dumb enough to buy an outdated copy for a penny and $3.99 in postage.

Lately I've been reading my own writing, poring through years of letters, email messages, and published and unpublished writing in search of good material I can put in eBook form as mini-books or article and story collections. It sounds egotistic to say it, but I'm one of my favorite writers, having documented my entire life in writing from age 18. Sometimes I read something I've written in a letter or journal note years ago and it suddenly seems so profound that I'm amazed, or so funny in retrospect that I find myself laughing aloud.

I remember the day when I was probably around 65 years old and writing by hand in one of my journals one evening. Harry asked me what I was doing and I said, "Just writing in my journal so I'll have something interesting to read when I get old."

Without missing a beat, he raised his eyebrows, gave me an amused husbandly look and said, "My dear, you're ALREADY old."

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