#30DaysofGOOD Challenge: 9. Video Chat with a Faraway Friend

Each month, we challenge our community to do something that will improve the world around us—and our own lives. September's challenge? To connect.

Welcome to The GOOD 30-Day Challenge (#30DaysofGOOD). Each month, we challenge our community members to do something that will improve the world around us—and our own lives. The challenge for September? To connect with other people. In an effort to help us all rise to the occasion, we're going to assign one small task every day. Each morning, we will post the challenge on and Twitter, along with a testimonial from someone on the GOOD team who's already completed it. We invite you to complete all 30 mini-challenges with us! Today, we challenge you to:

Video chat with a faraway friend.

I moved to Los Angeles to work for GOOD in August, so this one was easy for me—most of my friends are back in Washington D.C., where I lived previously. Coming from a five-person group house in Washington to a Sunset Boulevard studio apartment left me a little lonely in the evenings after work, too. E-mail is great to stay in touch, but it’s pretty dehumanizing, and I’ve never been a phone call success-story: Call me the King of Awkward Silences.

Yet I’m in luck thanks to the power of Google+’s hangouts, an easy, in-browser video chat experience that not only allows you to see and talk to your friends wherever they are, but also beam in more than one computer. That means I’ve been able to talk to my East Coast friends in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York—all at the same time. And as long as you’re dealing with friends and not some kind of work-related video chat (which seems to require a lot of intense staring and nodding), hangouts feel a lot like, well, hanging out.

On a typical night, I’ll beam into my former house and chat with my former roommates, with people making and eating dinner, wandering in and out of the room, and generally acting as though we’re all physically present. Instead, my larger than life image is projected on our wall (I understand the affect is quite stunning) while I see and hear my friends through my laptop on my coffee table. But I can still shoot the shit with Chris about his band’s latest performance, joke around with Julie about her latest adventures in food photography, and assess the ever-changing status of Drew’s facial hair (recently: Freddie Mercury).

But despite the pleasure I take from my video chats with the friends back east, and my firm conviction that this medium blows telephones out of the water, there’s still a little something lacking: Many of our conversations revolve around my thus-far futile efforts to convince them to move to L.A. Come on, guys, I’m way better in person!

- Tim Fernholz


Ready, set, go! Good luck completing today's challenge. Share your experience on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook by using the hashtag #30DaysofGOOD, or let us know how it went in the comments section below.

Tomorrow's challenge: Give food to a homeless person.