Although I’ll never say we’re fortunate to be going through what we are right now, I will say we are fortunate that we are going through it in a time when technology has made communication through separation incredibly easy.
It often crosses my mind when I’m traveling what it must have been like to be a traveler 40, 50, 60 years ago. Hell, even 20 years ago compared to today.
I think to myself, would I have been brave enough to go see all of these places? Would I have written home letters and postcards instead of texts and pictures? Would my family have been okay with me leaving?
I don’t know, I’ll never truly know. But I hope the answer to the first question would be yes. I like to think no matter what lifetime this is or when I would have been born, that my passion for travel, my curiosity about other cultures, and my love for meeting new people would have been a part of me no matter what my life looked like.
But, as I ponder those thoughts, the idea of only being able to communicate with family and friends via a written letter (or maybe a transatlantic call should I get lucky), taking potentially months to arrive, and knowing I’d likely never get a response as I’d be on the move so much, I always take a minute to be grateful for the era of technology that we live in.
I stop and remember to be thankful that with what we have available now, I’m able to always keep in touch with the people I love, no matter how far away they are. (which works both ways now that I’m back home and wanting to keep in touch with my loved ones abroad!)
And with everything that’s going on in our world at the moment, I find myself once again grateful for technology and its seemingly infinite forms of communication.
So, as someone who’s spent years keeping in touch with people via technology, I thought I’d share some of the ways I’ve found keeping in touch with people a little easier during these times!
Use Different Platforms Depending On The Other Person
In today’s world it’s so easy to assume everyone has text messaging or a Facebook or at the very least, a smartphone. But that isn’t always the case.
I’m sure you have family members from a variety of generations in your life, and they might not all be using the same primary forms of communication that you are.
So meet people where they’re at.
Would I prefer it if my uncle who lives alone would get on board with text messaging already so I could just shoot him a text to check in every few days? Definitely.
Would my sister prefer it if my aunt and uncle would join Facebook so they can see photos of my niece that she posts instead of her having to create a ‘whole’ separate email for them? Sure.
Do I wish my friends abroad would all pick one bloody platform to message me on so I wasn’t checking 4 different ones every couple days trying to keep in touch with everyone? Yeah…I sort of do.
But is that all reality? Unfortunately not. And you know what, I’ll be the last one you hear complaining about that. Because the alternative is living 60 years ago, and having to wait months for a letter or hope for a phone call.
So take the time to figure out who you want to check in on during all of this. Use that potential extra down time to check in with people you’ve been meaning to for ages.
See what platforms they use, there’s so many out there. Or introduce them to a new one! I recently got one of my friends on Whatsapp and she loves it. And I do too because it’s made keeping in touch so much easier.
And if you can’t text them, or email them, or assume they saw your latest post on Instagram, give them a call! You’d be shocked how much it will probably mean to that person to hear from you during this incredibly difficult and scary time.
Make Phone Calls
Adding on to that, even if you typically keep in touch with someone via emails or texting or Facebook, try giving them a call instead!
It’s amazing how nice it is to actually hear someone’s voice and have a ‘live’ back and forth conversation. Things come up naturally that just can’t come up when you’re talking via messages, simply because there’s a back and forth flow that’s created when you’re chatting with someone versus there being pauses in response times and extra time for people to write and rewrite their responses. (This is me, I’m the absolute worst, it takes me literally like 10 minutes to reply to a ‘hey, how are things going?’ message…hence why I’m having to work on getting better at my communication skills with friends abroad.)
My best friend is one of those people who is still in contact with her best friends from middle school and high school. She’s one of those people who is so good at keeping in touch with people that I’m truly in awe of her all the time. Because she does more than just text, she calls and Facetimes people all the time.
A lot of us use texting as an excuse to say ‘we’ve talked’ or ‘oh yeah I checked in with them’ or ‘yeah I told them Happy Birthday.’ But there is no amount of texting that she considers the equivalent of calling to have a quick chat, and every time I’m gone and I see her call coming in I get so excited.
And I can almost promise you that if you make that extra effort and take the time to make a phone call or Facetime, the person on the other end will be just as excited. Especially during these times.
Or Skype, or Zoom, or Whatsapp Video, or Facebook Messenger video, or Houseparty…see what I’m getting at here?
There are soo many options for talking ‘face-to-face’ right now, that it’s almost silly not to incorporate them into your chatting routines!
Plus, the addition of being able to chat with video allows for a lot more options of what to do while you talk. In fact, you can make it so you’re essentially ‘hanging out’ like you normally would be.
You can cook with people and chat while you each cook the same meal, then sit down and have dinner together. You can play games, like card games or Bingo or board games and pass around a virtual trophy each week to the winners. You can makeshift a ‘Happy Hour’ with your friends where you all sit outside, like you normally would after work on a nice summer evening at your favorite local bar, each make the drink you normally have there and then proceed to
bitch about work catch up on your days just like you usually would!
Share Photos You Have With People
As I write this blog, I’ve been going through years of old travel photos of mine and honestly it’s been so much fun. But what I’ve enjoyed even more has been sending some of those photos to people with a message something along the lines of ‘Oh my gosh, do you remember this?? I would so love to go back there!’
And it’s been great because it’s given me the motivation to reach out to a lot of people I’ve been meaning to, with something fun and happy to share with them, along with my message of checking in and seeing how they’re doing.
Odds are you probably have thousands of photos on your phone dating back years. I bet if you go through them you’ll find there’s a lot on there that you haven’t seen in a really long time and that looking back you’re happy you documented, and the people who were there would probably love to see them too. I know everyone I sent these photos to did!
And as an added bonus, I think it’s pretty safe to say sending someone old photos of some of the ‘good old days’ would put a smile on that person’s face. And I think that’s something we can all use right now.
And hey, if nothing else, it’s a lot of fun to go through your old photos just for you!
(As a side note, Whatsapp is my favorite platform for sending photos to people. There’s no size or amount limit on photos or videos)
Stay Educated and Informed
Now, this one isn’t so much in line with how to keep in touch with people. But I think it’s an incredibly important point nonetheless.
As all conversations inevitably go these days, what we’re going through right now will come up and it will be something you end up having to talk about. And what you know about it will come up. Which, could possibly be different than what the person on the other end of the conversation knows.
Which is why it’s so important that we are all well-informed.
When my family on the other end of the line tell me that the U.S. has fewer cases than most other countries, I never want to just say ‘um, no, you’re wrong.’ It’s incredibly valuable that I can say, ‘actually, if you go to the Johns Hopkins website they are tracking every case worldwide, and their numbers are different than that.’
It’s not an accusation or an attack on them, because that’s the last thing anyone needs right now, it’s simply sharing accurate information with them from reliable sources.
There is a beauty to the fact that communication is so easy for us these days. But there is a downside, as well. And that is that misinformation can spread as easily as it takes to send a text.
So, stay informed and up-to-date. Make sure you’re getting your information from reliable sources and don’t criticize others when they don’t have the right information or if what they say sounds silly to you. Just give them places to go so that they can be informed as well.
Now there’s tons of places online that you can follow that will give you correct information. These are my personal go to’s, but this is by no means a conclusive list. I follow the CDC website, Johns Hopkins website, and well-established newspapers that I pay to subscribe to.
Thanks to technology we have so many different ways to keep in touch with the people we care about. And you don’t have to try all these ways. But I encourage you to give one of them a try today! Send some photos to an old friend, pick up the phone and call your stubborn uncle or Facetime your family and coordinate a games night. I promise that little extra effort will go a long way right now.
Until Next Time Searchers.
Have another way you’ve been keeping in touch with your friends and family. I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!