Keep In Touch With Old Friends (20)

Seattle and New Jersey are not very close. In fact, according to Google, if I were to drive home the most direct route of 2,834 miles, it would take 46 hours.  Seeing as many of my friends still live in the state commonly nicknamed “the dirty jerz”, and I have no plans to return for quite sometime, keeping in touch is a major priority of mine. Lucky for us frugal folk, keeping in touch no longer requires a run to the payphone or spending the cents on stamps.

Some buds coming in 2nd place at Bar Trivia

So far in Seattle, I have found keeping touch with my friends quite easy, even without a Facebook. It may feel overwhelming for anyone moving far away, distancing themselves from their friends, but you’ll have to quickly get over the fact you won’t be able to physically be with them.  That does not mean you aren’t part of their lives, you just have taken on a different role! There are alternative though, ranging from one to one video chats to group messages. Here’s how I have been managing :

MORE AFTER THE JUMP

Skype: Not to be condescending, but if you have ever had a loved one go somewhere far away for an extended amount of time and didn’t use Skype because you “didn’t know about it”, you probably should learn to use Google. But seriously, Skype is a great, free, option to sit down in front of your computer and have a face-to-face (sort of) interaction with your close friend. It is free to signup and only requires a webcam, which almost all laptops come equipped with nowadays. Some other options if you have a personal grudge against Skype are Facetime and iMessage, both of which are offered for Apple products through the iPhone, iPod, iPad, or Mac computers. Now that I just listed every Apple product available I will be expecting some sort of compensation. But Skype is a great product for both Macs and PC’s, and you can even teach your mom to use it. It is a great way to show off that college beard I am trying to grow, or for my mom to show me my dogs back at home.

Voxer: Voxer is probably my most used application on my iPhone that isn’t texting, emailing, or Internet. It is a free service available for iPhone and Android that makes your phone a walkie-talkie. What I like about Voxer is the ability to leave a voice message in chat format. Below is a screen shot of my chat with my close friend Graham. You’ll notice all of our voice messages are right there to be re-listened to at anytime and it looks like a text conversation with the back and forth pattern.

Additionally, you can use the text function if you are in an area where you can’t listen to the message but don’t feel like using another application just to send a quick text. Voxer also has the capabilities to add multiple users, creating a group of people who can all listen and leave voice messages whenever they get a chance, though I don’t use that function often. In an era where people report a fear of talking on the phone and rather send text messages, Voxer is a great option for those who want to vocally communicate with their friend but don’t necessarily need to call someone up to tell them “I just watched that movie, it was awesome.” Voxer is near instant and can be used via Wi-Fi, for those abroad. I highly recommend this free application, even if you live next door to your best friend. You might be surprised how many of your friends already use it.

GroupMe: GroupMe is an application I use everyday. Available on almost all smartphone platforms, even those still with a blackberry, GroupMe puts all of your friends in a chat room, for free. If you are an iPhone messages user, you might say “why download an app when I can just start a group chat!?” Well, for those of you who are like me and created a group chat with 13 friends, you’ll notice very quickly how much you’ll regret it. Once the conversation in your iPhone chat turns a direction you no longer care to keep up with, there is no way to leave the group, or stop it from vibrating every time a text is received. Not to mention, anyone who is a non-iPhone user will probably want to kill you. But no fear, GroupMe comes to the rescue. Not only can you have a group chat with your friends on all platforms but you can also easily mute the group. So even though my friends have stimulating conversations I want to take part in, I find it convenient to mute the group when they are making plans that I clearly cannot partake in. Not only can you set it to not vibrate, but you can make it so you don’t get a notification every time a message is sent. GroupMe has not only helped me keep close to all my friends at once but it also makes coordinating things much easier. I would recommend GroupMe to anyone with a very tight knit group of friends who want to keep in touch, make plans, or just “shoot the shit”.

So if you are looking to keep in touch with friends and email, Facebook, and texting just isn’t cutting it, look into these 3 great, but free, options.

That being said, I would like to open up the blog to our most recent debate in my GroupMe. I encourage answers in the comment section.

So, would you rather go back in time and view, not partake in, but view, any single event of your choice OR see a dinosaur fight? You must include which event you would choose if you were to skip a T-Rex fighting an army of raptors!

We did lay out some ground rules, as most of us were brainstorming great events to see: you will be able to view the event from anywhere you choose  at the event in a reclining chair and an unlimited cooler of beer. The only event we made off limits was the big bang because it was too abstract, though we all agreed on how great it would be to witness.

My choice was Woodstock, though not everyone agrees. My rationale: It is some of the happiest times for our nation and a great environment to witness. Peace, Love, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. Who wouldn’t want to sit back and watch that for 3 days? I often wish I was born in that time period.

Some other choices include natural disasters, wars, or historical events. Not being a huge history buff, I rather see a happy festival than a castle sieged with thousands killed.

Where do you stand? Lets be honest, a dinosaur fight would be awesome…

More Info:

Skype

Voxer

GroupMe

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