Long distance relationships have been notoriously difficult to thrive in. A solid mixture of communication and trust are key to any successful relationship. Usually established through face-to-face conversation and experience together, most couples are optimally happy while living within a close proximity to one another, and are able to talk or see one another on a regular basis. The “Long Distance Love Made Easy in the Digital Age” Exhibit at the Museum for Technological Advances explores the impact technology has made on the way young adults communicate and triumph thousands of miles apart from each other.
The long distance relationship puts a particular strain on couples. They must manage the same difficulties all partners face, while being apart from each other, and having infrequent physical contact.
College students, especially, are long distance, as universities are wide spread and people move away from home. In the past, written letter, frequent visits, and the occasional phone call were the only modes of communication that could hold a couple together. Making the strain of distance more challenging. With the rise of social media, evolution of technology, and refining of the webcam, couples can defy the distance, live separately, and still remain within a virtual arms length with each other.
Smartphones are now the ultimate tool to making a relationship work. Not only are they connected to every social media platform on the web, but also the talking, typing, and Skyping possibilities make communication easy and accessible.
This exhibit looks at three different modes of communication that are most commonly used today. Each analyzing the emotional and societal role the technologies play in long distance relationships. Constantly being connected to a loved one is an advantage modern couples have at their disposable. The exhibit also questions how the technology can be a downfall.
Texting and Phone Conversations
Texting and phone calls are the most basic functions today’s ultra intelligent smartphones perform. It is their reason for existing. For as long as telephone communications have been open to the public, this has been the easiest way to stay in touch with a loved one, especially over distance.
Texting has simplified the phone conversation in many ways, especially in an emotional context. Today, the art of phone calls and texting have developed an etiquette and set of rules that command the way couples communicate in long distance relationships.
Texting is particularly sensitive to societal guidelines. Through years of using texting as fundamental mode of communication, people have created and conformed to a texting style, which may be pleasing to some and not to others. For instance, timing is everything with the text message and a romantic partner.
Much like in face-to-face conversation, over-eagerness can come off as irritating. Responding instantly, frequently, and multiple times to one text message can all come off as being over enthusiastic, and if done repeatedly, it may seem clingy. The opposite is also true, responding in an untimely or prolonged manner can be very aggravating and sometimes off-putting. Text messaging and timing is a skill that must be mastered by couples in a long distance relationship, as to not seem clingy or uninterested.
There is also a lack of emotion that comes a long with texting. Technology can be viewed as a barrier between two people because they are not able to process and react to another’s facial expressions, but it can also power to relationship. Text messaging in many ways is easier than having a telephone conversation, because there is no emotional reading of reaction.
The text message allows one to confront their partner, especially in a long distance relationship, without having to hear their voice or feel anxiety of having to bring up a difficult subject. The technology of texting does in fact create a barrier; while at the same time connects two people in a very effective and rapid way. With text messaging being such an easy way to communicate, telephone conversations are now perceived to be typically reserved for those who are in an exclusive relationship, or out of the ambiguous “dating” stage.
Phone calls are more intimate in nature compared to a simple text message. Because they are so emotionally ambiguous, they are easier to send and sometimes receive and perceive. With long distance, hearing your partner’s voice almost everyday is very important to the success of the relationship. While texting is fast, it cannot replicate the feeling of hearing the other’s voice. Through a vocal conversation, emotions can be shared and more trust can be built. Texting is a great way to stay in touch, but phone calls build it up to become stronger and healthier. The phone call may seem old fashioned, but it takes the relationship to a new level in modern day technology.
The invention of the webcam in the 90’s began the evolution of a new form of media that would take the basic phone to a whole new level. Today, forward facing cameras are built into the interface of nearly all new computers, cell phones, and even MP3 players. They all have to ability to connect to the Internet, and use apps such as Skype and Face Time that are free to use.
Video chatting is the new frontier for communication, especially for loved ones who live far away from one another. The ability to have a pseudo face-to-face conversation via webcam has completely changed the way that people interact with one another. The work internationally and replicate the sensation of being in the same room as someone else, minus the element of physical touch.
Most couples prefer this form of communication to all others, because they are able to see each other’s faces. Not only can you hear the other partner’s voice, but also you can also visualize their facial expressions, surroundings, and even do things together. Unlike calling and texting, there really is no etiquette to video chatting with one’s significant other. Many couples have told Skype that the app has been instrumental in the success of their relationship.
In this link, long distance couple tells Skype how video chatting helps their relationship.
Social Media and the Long Distance Relationship
Facebook gives its users the option to announce one’s relationship status to friends and display it to others who may view their profile. Social media platforms such as Facebook serves as a display of who someone is; photos, status updates, likes, and friend acceptances all reflect onto one’s ultimate image that they set forth into the digital world. The proclamation of a relationship has become a statement of if a couple is truly serious or not.
All couples must question the label of their relationship; whether they are dating, exclusive, boyfriend/girlfriend. The next step would question whether or not to solidify the decision by changing their profile to state that they are “in a relationship”; or “going ‘FB’ official. Facebook has turned romantic relationships into a socio-political move that could either benefit or deteriorate one’s image.
In long distance relationships, Facebook can also become a source of jealousy or anger. The platform’s purpose is to keep tabs on ‘friend’s’ lives by documenting photos and status updates, and even displaying when they are using the website and are able to ‘chat’. Some have said that Facebook takes the mystery out of a long distance relationship, which has been revered as an asset. The constant updates and photo streaming can ultimately cause issue in an otherwise healthy relationship.
Being apart from a partner, and the inability to communicate as frequently as couples how live within a close distance to one another, makes it difficult to establish a solid foundation for trust. The introduction of social media has made it very easy for users to view aspects of someone else’s life that may be hurtful to an already strained relationship. Photos specifically with other people tend to add jealousy to relationships. Especially when trust is still being built.
Facebook does allow for couples to share photos, videos, and communicate instantly with an Internet connection. It is another mode of communication that has been adapted into modern society. It also puts on display all interactions with friends and other users, and much like texting ultimately leads to overanalyzing. Katherine Bindley, reporter for the Huffington Post advises, “when couples sees a post on their partner’s page that makes them uncomfortable, they shouldn’t just let it go. Not asking can lead to mistrust and assuming the worst based on two random sentences whose context you don’t know” (huffingtonpost.com).
Social media places strains on long distance relationships that can be far heavier than that of the distance itself. Facebook may ultimately be the unhealthiest platform to indulge in while trying to improve or thrive in a long distance relationship.
Technological advances have made great leaps within the past two decades. The perfection and evolution of webcams, cellular devices, and social media has made the possibility of a successful long distance relationship far more obtainable than ever before. Some modes of communication are healthier than others. Texting and Facebook are great for updates and keeping in touch, but are often ambiguous and difficult to read emotion from. Often communication is overanalyzed or taken out of context, and ultimately creates issue. Telephone conversations have long been a staple of healthy communication. Whether talks are long or short, it’s effective way to build a relationship and trust. Video chatting using apps such as, Skype, is the new frontier of conversation. For long distance couples this is the hallmark of communication.
Bindley, Katherine. “Facebook Relationship Problems: How Social Networking And Jealousy Affect Your Love Life.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 09 Sept. 2011. Web. 19 May 2013.
Nagin, Perry. “8 Do’s and Donts When Texting Your Significant Other.” PolicyMic. N.p., 2012. Web. 19 May 2013.
Pearlman, Shana. “Couples Use Skype to Bridge the Distance.” Skype Blogs. Play Blog, 14 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 May 2013.
Wilson, Morgan. “Technology Aids in Long-distance Relationships.” Gcsunade.com. The Colonade, 23 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 May 2013.