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May 23 / Elliot Darvick

Closer: Eric & Heather

Welcome to the latest post in our Closer series — a look at how technology brings couples, family, and close friends closer. Eric and Heather are in their thirties and have been married for 11 years. They are raising three children in Orange County, CA.

Eric, Heather, & Family

Unbucket: What technology (applications, websites, etc.) brings you closer to each other?

Heather: I think texting is a big one.

Eric: Texting and emailing, these are the simple ones. We also share our Google calendars.

Heather: We do FaceTime too.

Eric: Yeah, that’s a good one. When I travel and can find internet access, it’s kind of fun to do FaceTime and walk the kids around where I am. Also, Instagram and Photostream. We’re always texting each other, you know, “Check my Instagram out.”

Heather: What about music? We’re really big into playing music for the kids and for us, during dinner or just when we’re cleaning.

Eric: Yeah, we share an iTunes account with music, and then we also have Spotify where both of our phones are synced to get the same playlists.

Unbucket: Anything else come to mind?

Eric: Heather uses the “Find my iPhone” app quite often (Heather laughs) but not in the way that you’d expect. I often forget to call when I leave work, and she’s trying to cook dinner, so if it’s around five-thirty or six she’ll check to see if my phone is still at the office or not (Heather laughs again). One time I texted her and was like, “Hey, almost home, at the five and fifty-five,” and she texts back, “Already know!” with a smiley face!

Heather: Yeah, I definitely use it, not to stalk him, but just to figure out if he’s going to make it to dinner when I haven’t heard from him.

Eric: We used to connect over Draw Something too, but my wife hasn’t drawn anything in about a month!

Heather: Yeah, that was fun for us. We would play against each other, but we always knew what the other was thinking so we never didn’t get each other’s drawings.

Eric: It’s funny because, as simple as it is, we use texting for a lot of stuff. For instance, if I’m going to the store, she’ll send me a shopping list or I’ll send her a photo, like, “Is this the right thing?”

Heather: What about the HoneyDo app?

Eric: Yeah, we’ve also done Toodledo. I think the more complicated the technology gets, the more I think it gets in the way of us connecting. All these things we talked about, the similarities are just pure communication, just a vehicle to communicate. I’d say personally, texting is by far, it sounds so vanilla, but is by far the number one thing.

Unbucket: How does privacy factor into the technology you use to connect with each other?

Eric: We’re pretty transparent from a privacy perspective internally, like husband and wife. I think the further our circles expand outside of our relationship, the more private we become. We have a close group of friends where we share some things. I don’t know, what do you think about privacy?

Heather: I’m pretty cautious in regards to everybody knowing everything. I don’t do Twitter, I don’t post on my Facebook my thoughts or whatever, I just post pictures.

Eric: But your Instagram account is anybody can see it or is it private?

Heather: It’s private.

Eric: You have people that you don’t accept on Facebook too.

Heather: Yeah. You’re more open.

Eric: A little bit in certain ways. My Instagram is public, I tweet. But see, I’m the opposite on Facebook. I don’t like people to see my photos if I don’t know them.

Unbucket: What about with your kids?

Eric: Our kids are starting to end up on the computer when we don’t realize it. So I think we’re kind of at the stage where we’re trying to understand how much freedom we give them or how much privacy we give them. You don’t want to open Pandora’s box, but sometimes I think the more we make privacy an issue, the more it can become one. Heather, what do you think?

Heather: I think right now they feel pretty safe. They don’t feel worried about anything, but I think we allow them a lot of freedom so they don’t feel afraid. Our oldest is turning ten and we’d talked about getting her an iPod touch…

Eric: Or an iPhone.

Heather: …and we’re just really nervous. Half of her class has phones already. They do YouTube and they do Facebook and they already do a lot of stuff that makes us nervous.

Eric: I’m not as concerned about the types of apps they use or the types of content they’ll look at. I get more concerned about them sharing themselves to a world outside of their own.

Unbucket: As a society, do you think technology is bringing us closer or driving us apart?

Eric: I would say that it helps us with our external sphere of people more than it helps us with each other. I guess though, can you imagine a day where I go on a trip and the only way I can talk with you is on the hotel phone or a pay phone, and that’s the only way you can get a hold of me?

Heather: For me, I feel like an old lady in some ways, and Eric keeps dragging me along with technology like, “This is where we’re going, get on board!” I think there are a lot of great things that I can’t deny that I personally benefit from, like when Eric’s gone and just tons of different things.

But in some ways I feel like technology kind of disables us from the intimacy of one-on-one connectedness. Sometimes I’ll say, “Let’s have a weekend where we put our phones down and we don’t do any technology, as a family.” There’s a balance I think and sometimes it’s hard to find that balance. I think Eric and I are good for each other because we’re both a little bit on opposite ends and we kind of bring each other back to the middle.

Eric: It’s interesting, twenty years ago you graduate from high-school and you never see people again, and now you’re commenting on photos of their kids’ birth. At the same time, twenty years ago you go out to dinner and there weren’t even StarTAC cell phones. All you had was what’s right across from you and the experience itself. Now you’re distracted, I mean how many times do you go to dinner and see people at the same table all in their own little social world through their phones?

Heather: We do that too! We have to be careful of that when we go out.

Eric: Totally! There are times when we’ll go out and switch phones. I’ll give her mine and she’ll give me hers. We’ll still have our phones if someone calls, but we won’t be as tempted to use them.

But then again, we have a  group from our church that meets at our house weekly and we use GroupMe to keep in contact. Today someone said, “My grandma’s going in for surgery and I’m really freaked out,” and we talked about that, or sometimes some of the guys will be like, “Anyone doing anything tonight? Let’s go have a beer.” It’s interesting, there are certain ways that technology really brings us together too.

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