Online family reunion


Every person, in my view, its fundamentally a message in a bottle, or better said, a heap of messages waiting to be found out, deciphered, received by others with an impact.

But if communicating it’s never easy, physical distance can add insult to injury, the open wound of our need to be loved and understood, making it even harder.

All of those whose family and friends are far away, who have attempted a long distance relationship or who belong to more than one world, to which they need to keep in touch with, can relate to what I’m saying.

That’s why Skype Reunion Family Photo project, from Singapore-born but New York-based photographer, John Clang, has strung a chord with me.

Technology, for us, it’s something more than post modern lust for the überexpensive tech gadgets that keep appearing. It means a substantial difference in our, and our loved one’s, day to day life.

Skype, Whatssap, Social Networks… laptops, smartphones, tablets… all of them are stones that help us reinforce the bridges that unite us.


I was wandering what all of us, the dragonphiles, have in common regarding what function technology has in our relationships. So I asked a few of them:

Alex’ story:

Katia and I met in the summer of 2009 and soon afterwards decided to carry on with our relationship despite the distance: Barcelona -Moscow. We had a pact to see each other at least one a moth, but in the beginning we resorted to a lot of phone calls and tried to call each other daily on Skype.

There was a lot of trouble in the begining, the connection was sometimes fine sometimes dreadful, and sometimes because of mine and sometimes because of hers. Trying to have a decent conversation was torture, sometimes we tried it up to 10 times unsuccessfully. I changed my mobile phone provider, she discovered that some neighbour was hacking her internet connection (at least we were told so by the provider). On this period, texting and phone calls, be it on the phone or paid Skype calls were our daily routine… along with the large monthly bills.

A bit later, Whatsapp appeared; I had an iPhone 3G but Katia had some kind of Nokia and didn’t had internet on the phone. She tried to download the app through a friend and she always had some kind of trouble… Maybe some kind of acronym -named agency it’s not very inclined to allow the use of this app until they can properly survey it?

When Katia got ahold of an iPhone, my bill lowered exponentially. This and the improvement in our internet connections improved very much our possibilities to communicate. It must be considered that there is two hours of time difference with Moscow, 3 during the winter since last year. Because of this and of our jobs we just could have an hour a day of decent conversation. Sometimes at the office, sometimes at home. Besides when we are able to talk to each other directly, we block sound but we keep on doing our daily stuff but we still are able to see each other. When someone has a question or wants to tell the other something we connect the mic again and we talk… it’s like an ever open window Barcelona-Moscow.

As I write this, Katia is watching, right in front of me, a movie at home. We joke with each other or she comments something about the movie. After three years of long distance relationship, mostly sponsored by Skype, Whatsapp and Aeroflot, we are getting married next year in Barcelona.

Cristina’s story

Pencil, paper, envelopes… are already far away in our routine to communicate with out loved ones.

It’s more than 5 years now that my sister Inés lives in Kigali, Rwanda and despite we are thousands of kilometers away, thanks to all the technological development I always have her close by me. Before phone calls were expensive, messages weren’t delivered and post mail was slow and took time to write and send them. Although I must admit that tearing up an envelope had a special magic and charm, for the everyday life, Skype and the instant messaging from smartphones has been a revolution in communications in my family. Thanks to it I can share the day to day of her project, Mille Collines fashion brand, and for her it’s a tool to be able to formulate every kind of questions and queries. It’s really incredible how close you can be thanks to technology.

Mirko’s story (Mortensi)

If you are one of those persons who don’t mind to be caught off guard, with a tired face or utterly bewildered, you might be ready for the step of the video call. I got to become uninhibited, but my parents… alas, not them. My father says that at his age, he considers ugly to be observed by an all-seeing all-judging electronic eye. So he doesn’t find Facetime quite OK (It was already too much drama for him learning how to text with his mobile phone). He just wants to communicate over the phone and I respect that. There are not many alternatives left since I live in Madrid and they live in Italy: telephone line it’s our umbilical cord. So I decided to keep communication as relaxed as possible, maybe it’s true that ideas are more sincere and spontaneus when you aren’t seeing each other’s faces.

It’s a few years now that I call them to their landline in Italy through Skype. Two cents a minute I keep the bill under control and still preserve home intimacy. Me, wearing my headset, comfortable and lying on my sofa; I appreciate that a lot. But I have to pay the price of disconnecting other devices to have a fluid communication. My parents don’t feel a difference at all, they use the same old telephone as always. Having a son abroad is already too much innovation for them.

What about you, wanderer? Tell us your story.

2 Responses to “Online family reunion”

  1. photojordi says:

    Esta claro que las tecnologias de comunicación nos sirven para tener a las personas que más queremos un poco más cerca. Has puesto unos ejemplos entrañables y muy representativos. Magnifico post

  2. Angelika says:

    Me encanta el post, ya que la mayoría de nosotros nos podemos identificar con el tema. La tecnologia nos ayuda para conocer la vida de las personas que nos rodean con el simple hecho de estar conectado al internet.

    En mi caso, que soy de Rusia, me comunico por Facebook con mis ex compañeros de clase, mi familia y los conocidos.

    Pero al ir a China donde la pagina de Facebook esta bloqueada por el gobierno y dejar a mi novio en España, tuvimos que mantener una relación de 5 meses a distancia. Hemos probado Skype por un tiempo, pero la calidad no nos convencía, ya que la conexión de internet era baja. Mientras que trabajaba y no coincidíamos por el cambio de horario, nos escribíamos y nos enviábamos videos por el What’s app, WeChat y iMessage. Era la unica manera de mantener el contacto.

    Aun que en mi ultimo mes de estancia hemos pasado a la aplicación GoToMeeting (enfocado mas a las empresas) y no tuvimos ningún problema, ni con la calidad del sonido, ni con la imagen de la cámara.

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