Having friends and family half way around the world, is no longer a reason not to have regular communication with each other. With internet texting/voice messaging apps, such as Whatsapp and Hey Tell, or phone and video calls through Viber and Skype staying “in touch” has become a whole lot easier. Knowing how someone is doing is as easy as getting on a laptop, computer or smart phone and clicking a few buttons to connect.
I rely heavily on this technology. With my Dad constantly shifting between America and Africa and a few places in between or friends living/travelling far away they provide a life line of continual communication. Phone calls to these places cost a large fortune for the privilege of having a severely delayed conversation for only a few minutes. Considering some of the countries my Dad travels to the internet connection far exceeds the telephone line service, meaning he can be in the middle of no where Africa and we can at least chat on Skype for an extended period of time. If we are really lucky we can get a good connection and have a video call for up to an hour, before the power goes out somewhere and we lose signal. Communicating with friends overseas this way allows for a never-ending conversation. There are no hello’s or goodbyes. As each of us becomes available we can reply to the stream of questions and comments left by each other, as our schedule of study/work/sleep allows. To friends away from home I can recount the daily general happenings to soothe their homesickness. For them they have someone to communicate their experiences in a new place – the cultural differences, random stories and weird and wonderful places they have stumbled across.
There is a down side to this relationship with technology. The lacking element of human connection. There is no way to hug someone, to comfort them because they’re sad, lonely or just because I want too. There is no way to pat them on the back/shake their hand when they have achieved something great. No way to give them a kiss on the cheek because I love and care for them. It’s at these moments that reality steps in and reminds me that they really are very far away. That I don’t have physical access to the most important people in my life instantly… only virtual access. It reminds me that there is still a huge big ocean separating us, when all I want to do is climb through the screen to give them a hug.