How do you stay close to your favorite people? Do you call? Text? Tweet? Facebook? Send emails? Visit? Write letters?
Since writing about my Uncle’s death, I’ve been thinking about how I stay in touch with family and friends. While there are a variety of channels for keeping in touch, many forces compete for our time and everyone has their own preferences. How we stay in touch has become an art form – part generational, part convenience and part timing. The tools we use reveal our true nature.
I tend to rely on email and text with friends and family who check their electronic gadgets and computers frequently. More often than not, it’s a short and snappy note, question or poke. These are a few messages I have sent or received from my mobile phone:
- Are you available to play tennis next Wed?
- Just arrived.
- Where are u?
- What’s up?
- Is James still up for a sleepover?
Over the years, I’ve found that I talk on the phone less and less. However, I speak with my parents mostly via their landline because it’s the best way for me to know what they’re up to and get the 20-minute low-down on family and social activities. To their credit, my folks are trying to actively practice texting, emailing and Facebooking. (My mom even has a Twitter account, but hasn’t tweeted since last year.)
Prior to my good friends moving to China, we only had to walk across the road to catch up. During their stint abroad, we stayed in touch with iChat video and email. Now that they’re back in Rochester, we continue with emails and the occasional phone call to arrange dinner and meet ups.
Facebook proves that many of my friends and family want to stay in touch (and play mindless games like Mafia Wars) in this arena. A colleague connects with his former physics lab partner. My mom connects with PTA parents. Some joker creates an alter ego (and people actually believe he’s real). My babysitter discovers me. Heck, even my mom set up her Facebook profile before me. Now, I’m on LinkedIn where I’ve networked with friends and former co-workers from my past, which is a good thing. I’m also on Twitter, but it’s more of a micro-blogging experiment. None of my friends and family are in the twittersphere regularly tweeting and twexting, so I’m more off than on.
But what about family and friends who don’t “do” electronica? I’ve found that writing and mailing letters is a wonderful albeit antiquated way to let them know I’m thinking about them. It’s kind of nice to open up the mailbox and see a letter from an old friend amidst the direct mail crap and catalogs. I only wish I would find the time to sit down and write a note more often.
While I’m still working on the fine art of staying in touch, I’m curious: How do you stay in touch with your favorite people?
If you’re on Facebook and we’re not friends, yet, send me an invite. You can always poke me, if we haven’t chatted in awhile.