Just recently my friends Nick and Chrysta Bilton became the proud parents of Somerset Bilton. As someone who saw their romance blossom, this was the perfect way for the story to continue. The birth of a child is such a magical moment for the parents, a reaffirmation of human continuity. A child is a bridge from our past to the future.
When I was younger, we would get baby announcements through snail mail. Then it was over the phone. These days most people announce the arrival of their baby on Facebook or via an email with a handful of photo attachments. Nick and Chrysta, however, went a step further and shared the whole experience with a special group created on WhatsApp.
The group included some of their closest friends, and each had his or her own history with the couple. We all know one another, and perhaps that is why there is a sense of great intimacy in this group. Nick and Chrysta’s story started with the drive to the hospital and a selfie at the hospital, followed by many status updates over the course of a few hours.
The blow-by-blow updates, the friendly banter and the occasional photos of a brave mother made it a gripping and engrossing experience. I was in Iceland, and I stayed awake waiting and waiting to hear the news of the arrival of the baby. And when he came, it was the sweetest thing: Seeing Somerset Bilton so soon after he was born in the arms of his mother and an hour later holding on to his father’s fingers — well, it melted my heart. I loved listening to the reactions from the rest of this group of friends in far-flung locations. I know we will forever be connected to Somerset, because we were (virtually) there when he was born.
Lately there has been a narrative about technology and its negative impact on society. Then there are others who bemoan the billionaire boys club and their antics. But just as the story shared above, it isn’t all bad. It isn’t all evil. Sometimes it is the most efficient way to bring together people and share a moment. The network was created to connect and help communication among people — and the birth of the newest Bilton proved that is the case.
Somerset, I can’t wait to meet you and tell you about things like snail mail, rotary phones, fax machines and that time when your gray-haired uncles and aunts used WhatsApp to welcome you into the world.
As an aside, a lot of attempts have been made to create private spaces, and yet it is something as basic and simple as WhatsApp that made it all come together. Technology isn’t about features. It’s about getting out of the way to achieve what we want to do with it.