If you are a friend, family member, internet acquaintance of mine then you already know…I have been HORRIBLE at keeping in touch for the past few months. I have been extremely busy but that’s no excuse. There’s never any excuse to fall out of touch with people you care about.
With that in mind I wanted to revisit some of the different ways I usually try to stay connected while I am away, more as a reminder to myself, but also perhaps to inspire others to think outside of the email box.
Nowadays my favorite iPhone chat apps are also available for Android, Blackerry, Windows Phone and Nokia users making it one of the easiest ways for me to KIT on the road. What’s App and Viber are the two that I use and while they do the same thing – provide a platform for live messaging – there are a couple of minor functionality differences that keep them both active on my home screen.
Personally I prefer What’s App for its photo and video sharing capabilities. You can’t send videos through Viber. What you can do through Viber but not through What’s App is make free calls. The quality is not always the best but if you just wanna call someone real quick to say you love them and mean it from the bottom of you heart, it’s perfect.
What’s cool is that all three apps allow for in-game messaging which makes it possible to chat whilst playing. You can sync them with your Facebook and Twitter accounts making it a lot easier to spark up a game/convo with contacts who you might not necessarily send a direct message to out of the blue. I’m in the midst of a few pretty intense games of Words with old high school and university friends that I hadn’t talked to in quite a while. Not only have we established that we’re still pretty good spellers, but we also now know what each other are up to after years of radio silence.
I’m going to be honest, I’m not a huge Skype person. Agreeing to have a Skype chat always seems like a huge commitment to me as I literally must put aside all that I am doing to focus on a call (getting harder to multitask with age). The fact that the person on the other end is usually interested in incorporating video into the mix doesn’t make it any easier because then not only do I have to not be doing anything, but I also have to look good not doing it. The chances of these two things naturally occurring at the same time – rare.
My remedy for this predicament has been to start scheduling these calls into hangouts and therefore planning them for a time when I am literally hanging out – going for a walk, having a coffee at a café, at a house party, chilling at a bar, whatever. Doing it this way makes it so much more interesting for both parties and in a sense makes you feel like you’re really doing something with each other for a short period. Closest thing to teleportation, I say.
Back when uploaded tons of photos on Facebook and updated my status daily with pointless stuff like “Wow, what happened last night…”, “Going to paint my nails now”, or “Check out this lame cat video”, I always tagged my friends in random photos or posts from my travels. Sure it seems kind of silly but I personally enjoy when I see my name attached to a cool experience someone had abroad. For the most part.
If only everyone I knew was an Instagram addict like me. This is one of my favorite ways to monitor my friends’ daily activities and for them to see what I am up to as well. Since I use mine a lot for “work” I post less random personal pics and more travel/scenery pics. But I love random personal pics! Yes, believe it or not, when I am away I want to see what you ate for lunch. I want to see what you look like in the mirror before you step outside your door. Instagram has been invaluable for keeping up with my friends’ babies – those little guys and gals grow like weeds!
Music is always an amazing way to connect with people so when I found that you could send tracks with messages over Spotify, I was overjoyed. I love introducing my music-loving friends to tracks that I discover while on the road and vice versa. While I’m away I also regularly creep on their playlists to find out what new music they are listening to back home(s). For some of them I even have my notifications set so every time they add a new song, it gets sent to my email.
Regardless of how many cool options for keeping in touch are available to us now, not everyone is using them. Ask my Aunt if she has Vibered with me lately and she might get offended. She doesn’t know what Viber is let alone how to use an iPhone. This is when we have to go back to the basics and survey the various phone cards available in order to keep in touch with our loved ones who are not well-versed in technology.
Thankfully making international calls these days are easier and cheaper than ever because companies need to compete with all these free applications and sites. This may be the method I use least, but one thing is for sure – none of the other ways warm my heart quite as much as a good ol’ fashioned phone call to my older relatives back home.
Any interesting ways you stay connected while away from friends and family?