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Porch & Parish

Tech That Keeps You Connected: Marco Polo

Apr 02, 2024 09:10AM ● By Lauren Pope
"Do you have Polo?" my friend Brittany asked.  I was in the middle an ill-conceived covid era renovation plan and had been texting her pictures back and forth for the last hour.

"No...what's that?" I asked.

Marco Polo is basically an app that lets you record asynchronous videos. You send a rambling video to your bff, she responds with a rambling video back.

As described it doesn't seem like anything particularly interesting.

"Just text!" said a slightly exasperated Jen when I pitched this article.

You start out very prim and proper, making sure you're only filming from the most pristine (or in my case, suspect) part of your house, but soon you're "Poloing" from all kinds of locations. Your car while waiting for your kid to finish dance, your kitchen while you cook dinner, your bathroom while you put on makeup.

The beauty of the thing is that it sort of tricks your brain into thinking that your friend from Minnesota is actually close enough to have a real conversation without needing to find time to sit down and schedule a zoom call. It's casual and on your time, but also very personal. Sometimes, you'll catch a friend at just the right time and go back and forth for an hour. Sometimes, you'll send a message and not hear back for three days. 

But that's ok because you can also take three days to respond and it's no big deal. (Sorry, Brit, I know I have about 4 Polo's from you waiting to be watched!) I've been thinking a lot about what exactly makes Polo unique among communication platforms, and I think I've finally figured it out. The beauty of Polo is that it allows you to be much more real than you are in other places online. You aren't curating a feed or making "content." You're just talking to a friend. You're also able to talk through the things that are driving you crazy in a relatively safe place. 

And did I mention you can delete Polos? If you find yourself rambling nonsensically, you can pull the plug on the whole thing before your friend sees it. Of course, this doesn't work if you're watching the videos in real time, but in that case it's much more like a zoom call anyway so you're probably safe. The delete feature also really helps if you were Poloing while impaired and your insights don't looks so brilliant in the light of day. 

Setting up your account is easy. You give it permission to look through your contacts so you can start Poloing immediately with people you already know. If your friends aren't on the platform yet, you can easily send them a message to invite them. As far as cost goes, there is a free and premium version. Upgrading to the paid version allows you to listen to messages on up to 2X speed and have it running in the background while you do other things on your phone. It also lets you send more reactions. I personally pay for it for the 2x speed because audio books have warped my perception of time, but perhaps you, dear reader, have a stronger attention span and don't need such gimmicks. 

Marco Polo promises to "bring you closer to the people who matter most without asking you to compromise on trust." I feel like it does a good job delivering on that mission. Sign up, try it, and soon you too can be sending your bestie videos from your closet at 11PM. It's all about trust remember?