Today, my son had a playdate with my friend’s son.  They showed each other their Pokemon cards.  Which wouldn’t be such a big deal except my son is here in NY, and my friend and her son are in Australia.

How did they do this?  Skype. I’m sure I’m the last person on Earth to discover this: but SKYPE TOTALLY ROCKS!!!

Skype – for those of you who have been living under a rock (as I was, apparently, until recently) is a FREE online video phone service that makes it possible for you to talk to and see your friends – no matter where in the world they are — FOR FREE.  You can use Skype to call land lines, too.  For Free.  (Did I mention it’s free?)

More than ten years ago, a good friend of mine moved back to Australia.  It was a crushing blow.  She was the kind of close friend you always wish you had: smart, funny, interesting, thoughtful, creative, fun to be with.  And she didn’t just leave.  She went to AUSTRALIA.  It’s not the kind of place you can just drop in for a quick visit. Going to Australia from NYC is a big commitment: the plane ride, the time change.  You need three weeks – two at the very least.

So though we tried email and phoning (we justified that by saying that one good phone call a month was like paying for one meal out a month – which we certainly would have done had she been here.)  But the truth is, we pretty much lost touch.  We each had two kids.  We got busy.  We didn’t really keep up with each other.

Until SKYPE.

Now, we “see” eachother several times a week.  We chat – she’s carried her notebook around and given me a tour of her house.

Imagine the possibilities for travel!  Your mother can watch you and your grandchildren traipse around the Himalaya’s (do they have internet connections in the Himalaya’s?  I have no idea.  But stay with me here.)  Anyway – Grandma’s watching the Himalayan trek, live, as her grandkids are doing it.  Or say you’re on a trip and your friends are considering joining you.  Show them where you are – live.  What could be better advertising?  If you have a home-bound friend, or you’re on a business trip and want to show your family where you are and what you’re doing…Skpe let’s you do it with live video and audio. Skype is a great way to share your trips while you’re having them (in short snippets – you don’t want to be carrying your lap top whereever you go) and it can let you live vicariously through the trips of others.  No boring home video sessions required.

You gotta love that.

So here’s to Skype: making long-distance friendships last, forging new ones, and giving a whole new meaning to sharing your trips with the ones you love.