Why Everyone (Including Introverts) Should Be Using FaceTime

In our connected yet disconnected techno-world, FaceTime is good for you.

Posted Oct 31, 2015

Source: Pixabay/ToomaCZ

Until recently, I successfully avoided using FaceTime by having an ancient iPhone 4 that didn't have enough memory on it to sync with iTunes, much less upgrade to iOS 7 or use FaceTime. Seriously, I hadn't been able to sync my phone in over a year and was strangely proud of it.

As a full-blooded introvert I don't like using the phone to begin with, and the concept of FaceTime seemed invasive and nightmarish. Introverts typically feel drained by social interactions (versus extroverts who are energized by them). Unless it was a close friend, family member or coaching client calling, I'd usually prefer not to answer if my phone rang, period.

Imagine what it felt like to have someone's face phoning me, expecting my entire face (not just my disembodied voice) to pick up the phone? No thank you.

A few weeks ago, I was growing increasingly nervous about an upcoming medical mission trip to Guatemala. I was used to working in urban, fully-outfitted medical clinics. If I had a question or doubt about anything (the diagnosis, the best course of action, the best drug choice, the correct drug dose), I could look it up online on either the clinic computer or my extremely slow old phone.  In Guatemala, I'd be seeing the most deserving, needy patients of my medical career, miles away from the nearest wifi signal. I'd be diagnosing and treating medical conditions I'd never even heard of, such as chikungunya virus (I still had to look that up just now, in order to be able to spell it).

After worrying about it for a while, I came up with a plan: I would finally cave and upgrade my phone, as this was a worthwhile cause that justified the effort and expenditure. My new phone (I was shocked to see by now the rest of the world was at iOS 9) would be able to download the latest medical apps, many of which I'd be able to use as offline references on my phone, as long as I kept the battery charged.

Two nights ago, it happened. I was using my fancy new phone to communicate with a friend who had also just returned from Guatemala, who had exciting news about potential future opportunities to contribute there. He texted me to ask if we could FaceTime, and before I'd finished texting him that I was actually about to run out the door (this was true, but let's face it, it was an excuse), there it was. The dreaded FaceTime call. And he knew I was there, we'd just been texting!

I answered. I had no choice. And it wasn't so bad at all. In fact, it was kind of fun. I could do this!

After, I got to thinking about the things I've read about face-to-face contact versus online interactions. There is legitimate concern (and research that supports it) that our online and other technological interactions, such as texting, are negatively impacting our mental and physical well-being and our ability to relate to others.

Obviously FaceTime doesn't replace true face-to-face interaction in the presence of a living breathing human being, but if you're miles away it is miles better than texting or messaging. So much communicating and connecting happens through the movement of our facial muscles, the light in a person's eyes, the affection in an expression. We truly connect. We can't escape or avoid each other. Research shows that face-to-face time with others increases feelings of empathy, connection, and compassion for others — feelings, and brain wiring, we truly can't afford to lose.

As much as I tend to escape and avoid interaction in order to get my daily dose of introverted alone time, I still need people. I was amazed by just how much, actually, during the last week spent in close quarters with the medical mission team in Guatemala. 

I normally would have dreaded sharing a communal bathroom with strangers but found myself regularly feeling glad that I didn't have my own. I was forced to laugh and joke with a large group of women every time I brushed my teeth. Having my own bathroom started to seem like a lonely and inferior proposition. Bizarre, but true. Humans are designed to live in community, and that seems to include introverts, too, at least in my experience.

I'm still pretty sure I'm a classic introvert (I'm an INFJ on Myers-Briggs), but in the last week I've gotten a crash course on why even introverts need to spend face-to-face time with others. As someone who largely works from home, it's too easy to use technology to stay connected and think that that's enough. It's not.

I may never fully embrace getting a call from someone's face, but I will push myself a little and force myself to answer that call.  If you've been avoiding it, I suggest you start using your face to call people, too.

Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. is a medical doctor, health and happiness expert, life and health coach, professional speaker, flamenco dancer, and the author of Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You.

Copyright Dr. Susan Biali 2015