Ohayo! Good morning!
In my technology presentations, when I ask the audience, “What state are we in?”, I see some confused faces but most play along and answer “Ohio!” I proceed to explain that the cross-language homonym of the English word “Ohio” is “Ohayo” in Japanese which means “good morning.”
I tell the audience a white lie that we are about to wake up my parents at 2 a.m. Japan time. Uneasy laughter fills the room as they debate if they want to be part of my shenanigans. My answer? I simply hit the Skype app’s “video call” button on my tablet.
As the live image of my parents show up on the projected screen at the front of the room, the audience has no choice but shout “Ohayo!” in perfect unison. My dad, ever the show off, responds “Good morning! How are you today?” in English.
Through sheer will to communicate using broken English and body language, smiles and laughter ensue. I pass around the tablet so they can experience what a personal video chat is like, though many times they just smile at each other across 6,000 miles. But anyone can see what is not visible – human connections being made.
Currently I’m in Japan as I write and submit my first WVBO article of 2017. My dad is very ill after living with cancer for almost half a dozen years and is quickly deteriorating as chemo has lost its efficacy. Although I wish the circumstances were different, I am blessed to be physically home with my parents under the same roof. This homecoming also gave me plenty of time to reflect.
I am reminded of the power of technology and why, I believe, my parents willingly support and participate in our presentations that require them to be up at 2 a.m. I believe it boils down to the human connections made.
On one video chat a few weeks ago with my family back in Cleveland, we used Google’s Duo app, an alternative to FaceTime that is not exclusive to Apple devices, where our son played piano for my parents. I was busy holding my smartphone for my dad to see and hear but my wife commented that my dad was smiling (which was already becoming rare in his quickly deteriorating health). The other week when our son was playing a basketball game, my wife streamed the game from the high school gymnasium so my parents could see him play. I’m sure our son has high hopes for future Cavaliers owner King LeBron James to draft him in 2028. I wonder what my fellow columnist Mr. Jeff Bing thinks of my prediction of King LBJ as Cavs owner in 2028?
An option to enable people to connect is what I’m reminded of repeatedly through my own personal experiences of using digital world tools. I will ever cherish the smiles and laughters that my dad’s “Ohayo!” brought to the presentations even as the sun begins to set. Thank you, Dad!
Technology and Organization Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.
As co-founder of Center for Aging in the Digital World, a nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, and co-founder of geek with a heart with the service mark "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.