My friends are my rocks.
We’ve stuck around for each other through our best and worst, all while watching each other grow into the people we are today. While I hold these friendships dear to me, what happens to these friendships after we start “adulting” and moving onto separate lives is a lot less reassuring.
My closest high school and college friends are no longer five minutes away from me. We’re in different cities, time zones, and zip codes. The certainty and assurance I once felt from these friendships have often turned into missed calls, late texts and a general unpredictability of catching up on life, especially at long distance.
Don’t be fooled: Long distance friendships take work. It’s easy to fall out of touch with your friends when your schedules are constantly misaligned. Though work is necessary in fostering meaningful relationships, living in our digital world can make this a lot easier.
Thanks to the digital age, we can get a lot more creative about how we stay in touch and remain in each other’s lives beyond a call, text or Facebook message. With tech at our fingertips, we can better traverse long distance friendships and be more intentional about the virtual time we spend with our friends.
Here’s how you can get creative about it:
1. Watch movies and TV shows together without being in the same room.
Some of my favorite hangouts with friends have been sitting on a couch, vegging out on comfort food, and binge-watching a show on Netflix. While long distance can mess up your TV watching habits—especially if you or your friend watch shows together—with apps like Rabbit, you don’t ever have to worry about spoiling an episode for your friend, or vice versa. Rabbit allows you to watch a video, TV show or movie on the same screen, all in real-time. So when the full season of Jane the Virgin finally gets released on Netflix, rest assured that you and your bestie can watch it together as if you’re in the same room.
2. Share digital playlists.
One of my favorite pastimes is making music playlists for my friends. I used to burn CDs for my friends as gifts or pick-me-ups. Although music services like Spotify took away the novelty of creating a playlist I could literally hold in my hand, it also introduced a wonderful opportunity to share those very playlists with friends instantly. Within seconds, you and your friends can share new music with each other or get nostalgic over old beats.
3. Tag each other in posts or memes that remind you of each other.
I lose count of the number of times I scroll through Facebook and say to myself, “Oh, that is so [insert any friend here].” My favorite social media posts are of memes that describe the little moments in friendship, from the way you have each other’s backs, or the look you give a friend when you find out gossip.
Even though you’re not in the same locale, you can remind each other of your favorite quirks and why you’re in each other’s lives through a quick tag or share.
4. Send each other virtual postcards.
If you’re still a sucker for postcards like me, you now can create an original postcard on your mobile or tablet devices. Apps like Touchnote allow you to use your own photos and design your own layout to create customized postcards. When you’re finished, Touchnote prints the postcard and sends it to your friend, so you’re creatively combining the best of digital and traditional correspondence.
5. Get food delivered to your friend with the tap of a finger.
Sometimes it’s just one of those days: you’re either completely vegged out on the couch because you’ve had a long work day, or maybe you’re under the weather. Fortunately, there are ways to make sure that your friends still take care of themselves.
6. Browse the web together.
Downtime with my friends often includes mindlessly browsing the internet. When at long distance with my friends, I miss stumbling upon funny Tumblr posts or taking Buzzfeed quizzes together. With apps like Samesurf, you can scour the internet together like old times. Samesurf allows you to share your computer screen with each other and instant message. You also have the capability of sharing computer files and HD video.
7. Want to plan a trip together? Try flight apps.
When nothing can replace physically hanging out with your long distance friends, make sure to plan a trip together. Thanks to mobile apps like Hitlist, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor, you can search trip destinations by dream destination, region, and activities, get notified about cheap travel deals and invite friends to help plan your trip. These apps allow you to seamlessly plan your trip so you can focus on quality time with your friends.