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Jun 25 / Elliot Darvick

Closer: Erin & Yvonne

Welcome to the latest post in our Closer series — a look at how technology brings couples, family, and close friends closer. Erin and Yvonne are in their late twenties and are the closest of friends. They met while attending college at Washington University in St. Louis and now currently live in separate cities, Erin in Los Angeles and Yvonne in Chicago.

Closer: Erin & Yvonne

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

Yvonne: I think for the most part Erin and I only use two or three things to stay in touch.

Erin: Yeah, I was going to say we’re not that tech savvy – or I’m not!

Yvonne: Yeah, we’re not super advanced. I’d say Gchat, texting — before when Erin had a Blackberry we would BBM a lot, that was an easy way for us to communicate throughout the day. I guess Facebook too. That’s pretty much it.

Erin: I don’t know, maybe we haven’t used it as much as I thought, but I’m about to send you a link from my bridal shower to Shutterfly.

Yvonne: Oh okay, photo album websites.

Erin: Yeah, she wasn’t at my shower, and I’m not going to be posting it on Facebook, I’m not one of those people who post everything, so I’d rather just give her a link to see the pictures.

Yvonne: So I can see what happened while I wasn’t there. I guess with important events we do things like that.

Erin: We’re constantly in communication. If I can’t get her though iChat or through text messaging, I’ll go on Gmail and see if she’s there, or vice versa, if she’s not on Gchat I’ll text her.

Yvonne: Yep!

Erin: I know I’ll find her in one of those places! (Both start to laugh)

Yvonne: It’s very rare we’re out of touch. There are weeks where we’re busy and we just say hello over Gchat, but we definitely speak on a weekly basis. I’d say we speak multiple times a week on the phone as well, and I’m not a phone person, I really hate talking on the phone, but with her I do talk on the phone. She’s one of the few people.

Erin: Because she knows I don’t tolerate paragraph text messaging! (Yvonne laughs) I think that’s why there are calls, because you like to send me paragraph text messages and I don’t like that. (Both laugh)

Yvonne: Okay I’m wordy! It’s true. And an email seems too official, you know, like I wouldn’t write you an email, especially when we were using BBM before where I could write a lot.

Erin: And often!

Yvonne: And often! And I think the ‘dings’ would kind of get on Seth’s nerves. (Seth is Erin’s husband)

Erin: And mine! It would be very frequent, but that’s okay. (Yvonne laughs)

Yvonne: The bottom line is we use two to three, sometimes four, different methods of sharing information and sharing our lives through the distance, and I think the reason why we seek out multiple venues is because there isn’t one area or one application to go to that would take care of all those needs.

Erin: Exactly. If we’re on Gchat and she wants me to see a picture of something, she directs me to Facebook. If she wants to show me a picture, it’s not like she’s going to email me a picture already on Facebook. She’ll just tell me to open up Facebook and look at the photo.

Yvonne: And if it’s private, I would have to send the link to a Kodak gallery or something that’s only limited to people to who I send that email too.

Erin: If I there was a Facebook/Gchat-like platform that was just between us then it would reduce the number of platforms we would use.

Yvonne: In terms of planning trips to see each other, those are just whole separate emails and multiple conversations that we have in terms of coordinating plans. We were just on the phone talking about things that we’re going to do when I come in early before the wedding.

Erin: I’ll probably now send out an email, but we’ll talk about it on the phone more too.

Yvonne: And then we’ll probably Gchat. There will always be multiple steps!

Unbucket: We have to say, you’ve developed an incredible, multi-layered system for keeping in touch with each other.

Erin: (Both laughing) It’s like I know where to find her. If she’s not answering this one, she’ll be over here, but if she’s really busy and she’s not on any of these things, then she’s definitely busy.

Yvonne: I have been! I’ve definitely been really busy lately! (More laughing)

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

Yvonne: Erin said something I wanted to bring up too. She said she wasn’t going to post the photos from her shower on Facebook, and for me and probably a lot of us, there’s this love-hate relationship with Facebook. There are a lot of people online that you’re friends with that you want to share certain moments with, for instance, one of our friends is in South America and she’s really removed from everything that’s going on here. You want her to be able to see what’s going on here, but with Facebook, you’re showing that to hundreds of other people that have no business looking at your photos.

Erin: To add to that, I could put photos on Facebook and limit who sees it, but for just some reason if it’s a private thing or related to my wedding — I don’t want to post any of my wedding pictures on Facebook. I think Facebook is something to be careful with. Maybe for things that are not that meaningful, like, “I went on this vacation,” or whatever, but big life moments or things that are little more private, I don’t know, I think I’m in the minority because most people post this stuff, I just feel a little exposed and I think it takes away from the event a little when everyone has access. Obviously I didn’t invite everyone to my wedding so maybe people I didn’t invite would feel offended. At least with Shutterfly people wouldn’t even know to look for my albums. I feel like Facebook is less about sharing with individual people as opposed to putting your life on blast.

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

Erin: I think it’s both. I hate to do that, but I think it is. People are very up-to-date on your day-to-day activities: you can share pictures, families can see baby pictures every day of their grandchild’s life and not have to wait to the two times of years they come out to visit, etc. The amount of substance within each communication is a lot less because you know you’re going to talk to them soon and more frequently, so I don’t think you try to fit in as much in each conversation. It’s more a text here or there, so you don’t sit down to have a conversation with someone anymore. You don’t have to sit, you can just speak while you’re getting your nails done or while you’re driving. Maybe not as much attention gets paid to the conversations we have because perhaps we take them for granted. I’m not anti-technology, I just think we don’t take as much time for each other.

Yvonne: Growing up, my grandparents didn’t live in the country, so I didn’t have much access to them. They would have to rely on pictures a few times a year or very infrequent visits. Now my cousin just had a baby and literally they post pictures all the time, or my aunt emails pictures on a daily basis to my mom and we’ve watched him grow day-by-day. That’s a wonderful thing and I would never want to give that back.

I think with other relationships it can become more diluted. With the ones you really care about though, I see mainly positive things, like the system Erin and I have developed for connecting with each other. I don’t think the use of technology has diluted my relationship with Erin or that our conversations aren’t as fulfilling as they were before.

I do think technology can make us lazy with certain people who you really want to keep in touch with but you don’t necessarily have the time to reach out to as often as you’d like. It becomes more about text messaging or a wall post, you know, that type of communication, it’s like a “Hey, I’m thinking about you!” Which is great, but because it’s so easy it’s not part of our regular practice anymore to sit down and write a full email update or schedule a half-hour call. I think with particular friends I make more of an effort to do that. For others, it doesn’t mean those people mean less to me, but I will sometimes take the easy way out and in that way I think technology has diluted those relationships. That said, it’s better than not communicating at all!