Do you live near your parents? Near your brother or sister? Your favorite cousins? Your grandparents?
I (mostly) do not. Things like graduate school and work have taken us far from home. And who knows where home is anyway? My parents are no longer in my hometown of St. George, Utah. Two out of 8 siblings live there, but before recently settling down, they moved around too. Here in Denver, we have some cousins — and we can’t believe how lucky we are to live near (a tiny fraction of) our family.
Ben Blair and I both love the families we come from, and I would expect that living away from them would be pretty darn emotional. Every once in awhile it is. But for us, technology mostly solves the geography problem. Cheap long-distance service and the world wide web have allowed us to figure out our careers, while moving across the country and back again, without sacrificing our relationships. It’s incredibly easy, and incredibly inexpensive, to stay in touch.
Some of my favorite examples:
-A dozen years ago, we were living in Greece and I announced the fact that we were having a baby boy via email. I remember being delighted that I could tell all those people at once (we have BIG families) without paying more than a small internet café fee.
-More recently, Ben Blair texted the safe arrival of June to our siblings and parents in an instant.
-I like feeling connected to my teenage nieces and nephews on Facebook (and really, why would they have reason to communicate with their stay-at-home aunt otherwise?).
-My kids share a group blog with their cousins — they take turns updating it whenever the mood strikes — no grownup contributors allowed.
-We loved Skypeing with my mom when she was recently living in Russia — I talked to her as often as if she still lived in the states. And it was free. Which continues to blow my mind.
-I love using Flickr to share lots of images from birthday parties or other events so Grandma and Grandpa don’t feel like they’re missing out.
Technology has advanced quickly enough in my adult life that I still find it pretty miraculous. I wonder if I would have had a harder time leaving my home and family if writing letters and an occasional long-distance phone call was the only way to stay in touch?
What about you? Do you use technology to stay connected to your family and friends? What are your favorites for staying in touch — Facebook? Texting? Skype? Also. Do you remember typewriters? I think the last time I used one was to type up my college applications. Now I want a vintage red one, just because they’re so charming. Also. Do you remember futuristic movies when you were a kid where people could talk to others on a screen?