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CONVERGE | Technology

Long-Distance Siblings: How to Use Tech to Stay in Touch​

April 21, 2020

Here's how my brother and I stayed close after I moved across the country.

I've always idolized my older brother, so it was a no-brainer that I would follow him to New York City after college. He lived in Brooklyn and I lived in Upper Manhattan. We had different friends, different jobs, different lives, but we always managed to find time for each other. Then five years ago, I moved across the country. I was worried that our relationship would suffer, but ironically, what transpired was quite the opposite —thanks to technology, my brother and I are closer than ever before. Here's how we did it:

Watching TV

Believe it or not, watching TV did wonders for our relationship. When I first moved to LA, it was hard to connect. We had very different daily routines, different lifestyles, and we were in different time zones. But a few months in, we realized we had one very important thing in common — we were watching the same shows! 

It started with “Game of Thrones." We would each set aside Sunday night to watch the newest episode, then debrief on Monday evenings. Once we were through talking about the show, we always transitioned into more meaningful conversation, and it proved a great way to stay in touch. When the “Game of Thrones" season ended, it wasn't hard to find a new show to obsess over. 

Thanks to streaming apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime, you can select a series to watch with a friend or relative, then make up your own viewing schedule. Cox On Demand also has a ton of options. To browse by network or genre, just say “Watch On Demand" into your Contour Voice Remote

Video Chat

Fast-forward three years — I had just had a baby, and my brother's wife was pregnant. It was tough to be apart during this significant time in our lives, but apps like FaceTime and Google Hangouts made it much easier. During the first few months of my child's life, we were able to FaceTime nearly every day; my brother got to watch my son roll over for the first time, and we were on the line when his wife went into labor. 

Truth be told, we were more in touch during that period than we ever were when I lived in New York. It used to take me over 45 minutes to get to my brother's apartment on the subway, but now we can connect in a matter of seconds. In addition, video chat allows us to set time aside for the sole purpose of spending time together, so we actually get more out of each interaction. It made me wonder why we hadn't been using it all along.

Photo Sharing

Another two years later and our babies have somehow become full-blown toddlers. Our kids love FaceTiming with one another, but since we live on opposite sides of the country, missing some milestones is inevitable. We simply can't be there for every birthday, every developmental achievement, each hilarious moment. Luckily, photo sharing apps and social media allow us to record and share these experiences after the fact. 

My brother created a Flickr account where he posts all the newest photos and videos of my niece. Because of this, we got to see her eat her first banana; we got to watch her walk on her own for the first time; we got to hear her first word. Likewise, my husband and I created a private Instagram account for our son, where we curate specific moments just for our family. Now everyone we love can watch him grow, no matter how far away they live. 

My brother and I grew up together, but that's not why we're close. Now that we're adults, we've actually gotten to know one another in a new way, and I can honestly say that we've become best friends. When I first moved to LA, I thought we had a great relationship because of technology, but now I realize I had it backwards. We use technology to connect because we have a great relationship.

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