Friday, September 6, 2013

Has Technology Helped Sustain Your LDR (Long Distance Relationship(s))?

When I woke up this morning, this video was making its rounds on the web via NPR about our "cultural addiction" to phones. Naturally, I watched it in bed with one eye open (because I wasn't even fully awake yet) with the covers halfway around my head (this is why I don't qualify for laser eye surgery - because I'm probably actively making my astigmatism worse).

But seriously. I think I'm addicted to my phone. John and I definitely do half the things the couple in that video do - and it's scary. I need to stop taking so many pictures of my life and posting them to Instagram or Facebook (though I often take them so that I can use them on this blog!).

However, I am so grateful that I own an iPhone (or just a smartphone in general). Why? Because it makes it so much easier to keep in touch with my family, who are c. 5,000 miles away and 8 hours behind. Emails and photos can be sent quickly. Real-time FaceTime conversations happen frequently.

When I get home from work, I drop my keys into our silver dish by the door, take my shoes off, fling my purse into the nearest corner, and proceed to FaceTime my mom. The call pings to my dad's iPad, which is also linked to his iPhone, so he sometimes picks up first. That's fun, because he's usually at work and then we proceed to have a short, amusing, semi-hilarious conversation about how his day is going and what I'm doing at the moment. Then I tell him not to pick up the next time I call so that my mom will pick up at home instead. When I called a few months ago, they were having landscaping done on their driveway, so my mom was able to flip the camera to show me the work that was going on in real time, as well as the different options for the outfit she wanted to wear to my wedding reception.

Because of this, I feel so much closer to them - even though they're so far away. If I prop my iPad up on the dinner table when my mom's having breakfast, it's almost as if she's sitting across from me. Sure, it's no replacement for the real thing, but we can easily chat away 2 or 3 hours at a time. Once, when John was away and I was feeling particularly homesick, I just left FaceTime on with my mom (and probably used up all our bandwidth) from the time I got home to the time I went to bed. It was comforting and we weren't even necessarily talking. Just being able to call out to her and have random conversations made everything better.

The year John and I started dating was when Skype just started to become popular. We set it up in our respective locations (me: South Hadley, Massachusetts, John: Oxford, United Kingdom) in our dorm rooms and spent hours watching movies "together", playing games "together", and even falling asleep "together". Yup, we'd leave it on while the other drifted to sleep and the connection would break in the middle of the night every time, but it was still the comfort of knowing and seeing the other person there that made all the difference. I honestly think that, hand on heart, our relationship wouldn't have survived without Skype. Or maybe it would have. But it would have been much more difficult.

What do you think? How do you use your phone or tablet or computer to keep in touch with loved ones who are far away?

p.s. snail mail is good too. I do a lot of that.

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