Our contributor, Natalie Borton, explains three ways to prioritize our relationships with friends, and offers tips for fighting against the ambiguity of a digital phone or computer screen!
We live in a digital age, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I love it. The potential for connecting that it offers us is unlike anything in history, but it also comes at a price. If we aren’t careful, technology can do the opposite of what it was designed to do, keeping us from real, deep relationships and letting us lose touch with our real-life friends in favor of looking at and commenting on photos of people we don’t even know in person.
1. Use Technology to Your Advantage.
One of my very best friends lives in Austin, Texas, and I’m in San Diego, California. Yet, we have managed to stay in touch daily and continue to deepen our friendship thanks to the technology we have at our fingertips. From silly Snaps of ourselves or our kids doing ridiculous things, to ultra-lengthy text chains about marriage, pregnancy and our families, we’ve been able to let social media and our phones bring us closer together. And because we’re taking advantage of that, whenever we make trips to see each other (at least twice a year!), we feel like we haven’t been apart at all. Another amazing way to let technology help you stay connected? FaceTime (or really any video chat service). When you can’t see your loved one or friend in person for whatever reason, it’s the next best thing.
2. Plan Face-to-Face Time.
As I just mentioned, you absolutely need to see your friends face-to-face if you have any hopes of staying connected to them. For your friends that live in your area, that could mean putting a weekly coffee date (or playdate for all of you fellow moms out there!) on the books so you can put down your devices and spend time with one another. If you’re far away, budget for trips to see the people you care about keeping a relationship with. Technology can keep you in touch in between visits, but it’s important to spend a little money and take some time to invest in faraway relationships that you hope to keep for years to come.
3. Snail Mail.
Sometimes, it’s important to totally unplug. With the ease of communicating through our devices comes a renewed meaning to the term “snail mail.” Keep some stationery handy and write “just because” notes to those you care about from time to time. If that feels like too much, you can take advantage of a technology company doing snail mail for you. There are several to choose from, but I love Postable and have used the company for the past two years for all of my paper correspondence. For thank you notes, notes of encouragement or even just a silly thought, they’re affordable and simple—and don’t require having stamps or envelopes handy, or good handwriting for that matter.
Technology can easily take us away from those we love and care about and is easy to abuse, but staying connected to friends in the iPhone age is easily done when we use our devices in the right way—or simply know when it’s time to unplug.