I recently decided to participate in a swap on Swap Bot. It was called "Voice Message" and the instructions were
you will use a voice recorder (the kind on your phone, tablet or digital voice recorder) and make an audio letter introduction to your partner. Simply introduce yourself and email your 'letter' to your partner. Include your name, age, where you live and what you like to do. This intro should be the same as when you write an introductory letter to a new pen pal, but instead of writing it, you'll be recording it.
I've had a pen pal of some sort or other since I was in grammar school and got the name of an English girl from a Mrs. Chegwidden in San Francisco, who paired girls in the U.S. who wanted to write with girls in England who wanted to write. My partner and I exchanged letters for some time -- I don't remember how long, but probably not all that long. I don't remember her name, unfortunately, but I did enjoy the letter exchanges.
Over the years I have exchanged letters with people I know face to face and with people I never met. This sounded like it was possibly a new version of a pen pal.
I was assigned two partners, one in the US and one in Germany. I made introductory messages and emailed them off.
After you complete a swap on Swap Bot, you rate the partners who send to you and the partners you send to rate you. One of my partners rated me "thank you." That's it. The other one left a message about how much she'd enjoyed my message, but neither suggested continuing the exchange. I was a little disappointed.
I had better luck with the people who sent to me. The first one, Tim, was a guy who lives in San Francisco and has been a performer for many years. In fact, he's a professional story teller and started his message to me with a story (which made me wonder, at the beginning, if he had sent me the wrong file!) Not only is he in theater in San Francisco but he also works at the Radiation Lab at UC Berkeley, and I worked in the Physics Department, and while not in the Rad Lab, I knew many people who worked there.
He also mentioned, in his tape, that he's involved in a group that sends audio messages all the time and I figured he would be perfect audio pal, so I sent him a follow up message, but never heard from him. In fact, I worried that he had not received it and sent him an e-mail asking if he received my message and he didn't answer that either.
Owell. Another disappointment.
But the other person who sent me a message was a woman named Ilyse from Virginia, a 61 year old wife of the minister of 3 different churches. She sounded like a nice person and when she invited me to respond, if I wanted, I did.
It's amazing how much we have in common. We both hosted foreign students, we both love TV and like many of the same shows, we are both learning how to use an InstantPot. and several other things.
We each send messages of about 20 minutes. I've learned about her kids and told her of mine (she was excited to see Ned's new Brianna video and thinks he's brilliant.)
It's a new world and there are no rules, so I'm just kind of feeling my way along. When you have a pen pal, you write a letter and mail it off. It arrives in a day or two. Your respondent may take a few days before she responds and then it takes a few days before you receive it. So the minimum time from when you first write to when you write again may be longer than a week.
But with audio message, it's possible to send several messages a day (though we have not) and I'm not quite sure how best to go about it.
We have exchanged 3 or 4 messages thus far since March 9. Her last message she actually sent me two, one about a complicated problem she was having at work which lasted so long she sent a Part 2 about more personal stuff. Her message was in response to a message I had sent earlier in the day and I didn't think I should send a message back immediately, but it was one of those things where she talked a lot about TV shows she watched and comments about them and you just wanted to say "me too!" without waiting a few days to do it.
Also, she talked about her Instant Pot recipes and I wanted to say I'd like her to share.
So I sent off my second message in the day and also sent her a link to Ned's video, which she had asked to see. She sent back a text message saying how much she loved the video and how she was on her way out and would listen to my message when she got home.
Initially she expressed surprise at how at ease I seemed to be with recording. Heck, I've been recording for many years, starting with all those Lamplighters interviews and then the interviews I've done for feature articles for the newspaper. I learned long ago how to put people at ease and get a good interview out of them and so when I started doing my own talking, there was no hesitation or nervousness about it.
I don't know where this is going, if we will settle into a routine of sorts or if once we have finished all the "getting to know you" stuff, it will die off, but I'm having a good time getting to know her.