Thursday, July 5, 2012

Long Distance in the 21st Century

The only reason I'm able to write this post without sobbing and/or throwing things is because we have electricity and internet back at my house.  Because of Friday night's storm, we experienced 117 straight hours without power - which meant no A/C, by the way, during a week when the temperatures in DC hovered around 97°.  The exceedingly handsome and capable men of DelMarVa Power, who traveled all the way from the beach to help, are my heroes; I believe that Pepco completely failed me and will continue to be mad at them no matter how many times I'm told that DelMarVa is their sister company.  If you follow me on Twitter, you will have seen my angst:

We got power back at 8pm last night, though, and I am so grateful to everyone who worked around the clock - on a holiday to boot - to help my neighborhood.  Thank you!  And if you still don't have power and you live near me, please let me know if I can do anything.

Anyway, because we now have internet back in our house, I can speak to Jon again - hooray!  Which brings us to the point of this post: managing a long-distance relationship in the 21st century.  I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to sustain anything meaningful before laptops, wifi, and smartphones.  (There's a really cute graphic here that explores it, though!)

yes, I drew those hearts myself

There are dozens of ways to keep in touch with your loved ones whether you're 30 miles apart or more than 3000, like Jon and me.  We've tried to limit our options because it's silly to have to check ten different programs just to see if you've gotten a goodnight message; our handful of products is relatively manageable.

Jon is terrible at email.  There's no way to say that more gently but still be honest about it.  If I have a long message for him or need to send him wedding links/info, I'll send it to his personal email - but I'll almost always have to alert him through another medium that he should check his inbox.  (Sending something to his work email is only a last desperate resort!)
Our iPhones are more or less surgically attached to our palms, which means that we can rely on our mobiles if we want to send short and immediate messages back and forth.  We use What's App, a free instant messenger service, and it's simple and intuitive.

Because we both have iPhones, we can FaceTime on the go.  FaceTime is exclusive to Apple products, and it lets you video chat for free no matter where in the world you are.  You have to be picking up wifi to use it - it won't work just on 3G.  That's causing the only glitch in the program that we're experiencing; it doesn't tell you if the other person doesn't have wifi when you try to call, so you can "miss" a call even if it hasn't actually gone through. But we love that it's so easy to use almost anywhere.

All that being said, Skype is definitely our preferred method of meaningful communication.  We might have quick conversations throughout the week on FaceTime (or even just via emails and What'sApp if we're really busy and/or if my [expletive] power is out for five days) but our long weekend catch-ups are always on Skype.  Nothing beats seeing each other on a big laptop and being able to share screens - we can laugh at YouTube videos together, browse the websites of our wedding vendors together, and read news articles together.  It's magical.

So those are our four main methods of communication while we're thousands of miles apart.  There are obviously many others - two more for iPhones are HeyTell, which we don't use because I'm afraid I'd only end up nagging, and Pair, which seems like a more overblown and needlessly romantic version of What'sApp - and we do sometimes happen to cross paths on Facebook and Twitter.  But these work best for us, and I'd definitely recommend them to you if you need to keep in touch with someone special!  Of course, there's no program that gets us around the fact that we're five timezones apart and somehow have totally incompatible schedules, but what can you do?


  1. It is funny, Lee and I did the UK-US thing 7.5 years ago, and we did it with emails, the phone and texts. We said we couldn't imagine what people did before that - holy cow it would have been nice to have had Skype!

    And now I feel supremely old.

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  3. my sister is currently in france, & when we used facetime, my dad got a bill that charged him 99 cents per minute for it - i wonder why that happened? we thought it was free, & when my dad talked with the at&t before she went over there, they didn't tell him it would cost anything. weird!

    justin & i find long-distance difficult even with all the technology we now have - i can't imagine years ago before readily available texting, skype, etc. it would have been so much harder!

    - lauren

  4. My year being long-distance with Jon flew by! We used skype all the time but imessage is free even internationally so you can use that too.

  5. Wow, I can't believe you just got your power back! I got lucky and my power didn't go out, but I was driving on GW Pkwy when the storm came blowing in. Hope you are cooling off now!


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