For the month of November I participated in a little social media diet challenge in which I was only allowed to spend 30 minutes a day on social networking sites. For someone who twitches when she cannot update a Foursquare location or create a Facebook event from her mobile, this proved to be a full exercise in restraint.
30 minutes of social media for 30 days gives you lots of time to think (and publish a free eBook at 2 AM apparently) and examine your relationships. While I think that I have made good friends that I would not be able to enact without these tools, I am also aware of how shallow some of those connections are.
Sometimes there is more to be said than what can fit in 140 characters or a string of public wall updates. Here are some ways to stay in touch and communicate without having to even visit that big scary F-site.
- Email – A foundation for online communication, email allows you to put all your thoughts out in a message that is not limited by character or time. With CC and BCC fields it can facilitate a much more personal blast via subscription newsletter or foster an intimate conversation with close friends.
- Phone – Yes, before our phones had touchscreens and Tweets and iTunes, these little devices were nothing more than the mobile generation of their landline predecessors. Regardless of whether your phone has a cord or a touchscreen or it flips, it’s a wonderful way to hear a loved ones’ voice and catch up on the events of life.
- Flickr – Who needs tagged photos in Facebook albums when you can tag photos in a Flickr album? Hopefully your friends and family will have better tagging etiquette on this site and choose not to alert your followers to an unfortunate photo of you involving a sombrero, a potted palm and a windsock (don’t ask…)
- GChat/Skype – If phone calls won’t work, both of these online services provide an excellent alternative. If ICQ or AIM was your thing “back in the day” then you will be pleasantly surprised to discover GChat. If you have a web-camera and are feeling particularly techie and adventurous you can use the video conferencing feature to have an almost face-to-face talk.
- Coffee Dates – You may not be addicted to this sweet caffeinated nectar of the gods, that’s fine. I, however, would prefer to inject it intravenously if at all possible. Your coffee date does not need to involve coffee or any other high-priced cafe beverage. Besides, a kitchen table or living room chair is much more comfy than those chic wrought-iron table and chairs.
- eCards – The online solution to all things snail, I’m personally a big fan of someecards when sending a quick Thinking Of You note to family and friends. I also use BirthdayAlarm.com to remind me of important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, slumber parties, etc) for which I should send a little something. You could accomplish something similar with reminders in your Google Calendar.
- Letters – There is something so thoughtful and beautiful about receiving a hand-written letter from someone. The time they took to pen the note, the paper they selected, the funny drawings and scratched out words that are so indicative of their persona that you miss them a little more and silently cling the missive in your hands.
- Share-An-Item – A friend of mine does this with 3 of her friends, they share-an-item amongst themselves. A talisman or token, theirs is actually a piece of costume jewelry prominently displayed. Whenever one woman is faced with an event or challenging time the item is sent for her to wear. An unspoken support and bond reminds her to believe in herself each time she catches a glimpse of it.
- Annual Get-Togethers – When a quick catch-up over a cup of tea is not a possibility, then schedule a time once (or twice (or ten times)) a year to meet up somewhere for a long weekend and revel in the awesomeness of being able to share a dinner, a hug, and an adventure. I use Kayak.com to alert me of upcoming travel deals to see friends and family during the year.
- Psychedelic Mind Bend Telepathic Waves – Ok, this one is a bit harder to master. But if you can…dude…the sky is the limit for your ways to keep in touch!
What are some of the ways that you make sure to maintain solid and lasting relationships with your friends?