I was invited to be the guest at the weekly chat conducted by a Facebook group I belong to last Friday evening. The subject was my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.
And I must admit when I agreed to attend I had no idea what to expect. I’ve participated in online telecoms, individual chats on Facebook, but never a group chat. I didn’t even know at first whether this would be an audio chat or just through the computer keyboard.
I found out soon enough – it was a typing on the computer kind of chat.
The organizer sent a link to a Facebook chat application called “Let’s Chat” via Clobby Group Chat, and I logged in about fifteen minutes before my six o’clock evening start time. A few people were already there – I could tell from the list on the right sidebar. The group leader was also there and said she was relieved to know I managed to successfully get in. Then she had me test how many words I could type in the little input box before the application cut me off. It turned out to be about two and a quarter lines of text. She said I could keep “talking” if I hit return at the end of my limit. I would then get another input box that allowed me to continue.
Now all of that works very well in practice and through the first few questions that were one on one between the leader and me, but pretty soon others started typing in their questions as well. And some turned out to be comments to past answers, and some not even directed at me. It’s like a lot of balls being thrown my way at once that kept me on my toes – or fingertips I should say. I had to keep scrolling up and down to make sure I answered what I needed to answer. By this time my fingers were huffing and puffing, but I think I answered every one. When the leader announced after about an hour and fifteen minutes that the question and answer period was over and that the attendees could then just chat amongst themselves, I was definitely ready for a rest.
A couple of other things:
People kept coming in and out of the chat – I could tell because their names kept flashing on the screen. I was a little taken aback when one participant left the chat after about a minute into it. I started to wonder what did I do, what did I say, but I realized I had to get over that and more on. The screen also told me who was typing.
Also, I had my computer desktop loaded with backup material. But I never referred to any of it. That’s good. It proved I didn’t need any notes. Plus I wouldn’t have had the time to look if I did need them.
My online chatting experience turned out to be both an exhausting and exciting. Plus I loved to interact with so many people about my book. We’ve agreed to meet again after they’ve read the book.