In these modern, internet-addled times, it’s easy for authentic personal connections to fall by the wayside in the wake of a digital presence. Social media gives users the option to stay in touch with loved ones no matter how far away, and yet too often social media is used as a way to be lazy with our relationships. Why bother figuring out what time you can call a friend multiple time zones away when you can watch her life in real time on Snapchat? Why take the time to handwrite a thank you to a family member when a Facebook message accomplishes the same purpose?
The convenience of social media in keeping us updated on our loved ones’ lives can kill our ability to maintain real relationships if we let it, particularly those relationships conducted over a long distance. To counter this, here are three things I do to ensure I keep up with real friendships:
– Send handwritten notes, just because. Many of my friends are spread out across the country, and while it’s easy to informed of their lives via the internet, it’s also fun to send notes to let them know you’re thinking of them. Handwritten notes require more time and effort than online messaging, and the sentiment is almost always appreciated. Plus, everyone likes receiving real mail.
– Regularly schedule Skype sessions. This is one most people do, but sometimes we forget to make a regular habit of it. Video-calling friends and family allows you not only to see their face and hear their voice, but can also let you into how they live their daily lives. I often Skype my friends when I’m cooking dinner or doing some other normal life activity, and it’s a good way to get something necessary done while still having time for a friend.
– Engage with their online content with more than just a like and a comment. Whenever a friend shares big news online, whether it’s happy or sad, their posts are often inundated with well wishes and it’s easy for your comments to get lost in the mix. I like to follow up seeing a piece of news with an email or a private message congratulating them and asking them more about it, the way I would if they had told me their news in person.
Showing appreciation to your long distance friends and relatives for being in your life requires a little more time and energy than the casual acquaintances on social media. But maintaining meaningful contact ensures that you aren’t lazy in your relationships and lets the other person know how much you care about them.
Head over to Kate Klassa’s blog A Little Life to find out more about this lovely explorer.