Strengthen with Distance

Senior year was a time to make memories. Between college applications and AP testing, I spent my time with my closest friends. I would go out at eleven pm on a school night just to go be with my friends on their eighteenth birthday or spend the weekend exploring Seattle. I believed my friendships would last forever, or so I thought. Now three months into my freshman year of college, I am finding that my dream was easier said than done.

I have spent hours researching one central idea: How does the distance created by going to college affect the student’s relationships back home? Slowly, I began to narrow in on how technology has eased the stress of maintaining these friendships, which I called “The #Paperless Theory”. From a ten minute phone call to a single text message, staying in touch with friends and family is more accessible than ever.

How often do you check your phone a day? Are you looking for a certain text message, waiting for an important phone call, or just checking up on social media?

A moment of fear

All of these activities involve social interaction, usually with people who are not with you at that very moment. Advancements in technology has allowed us to communicate with others over long distances, something that benefits the everyday college student. As someone who has had an iPhone since 8th grade, I am not an exception. As I dove into this topic, I conducted a survey among fellow college students focused on the usage of the internet. The results found that 100 percent of respondents had a smartphone, and 63.2 percent used the internet for social media.

Social media. These two words have become a key part of many student’s lives. This online way of communicating is used to keep in touch with family, laugh with friends, and learn more about the individual’s own interests. But on a bigger scale, it takes more to maintaining a friendship than liking each other’s post here and there.

Students leave their families to pursue an education away from home. Just because they move away, does not mean the communications stop between the student and their families. The distance causes students to create a balance between the new and the old relationships in their life. The use of a technology is one way of doing that. Along with the change of college, our parents are going through a change of their own. This became very clear to me when I talked to my mom about how she felt the house was empty and caught herself “looking to see if you {author} have the van but then I remember you’re {author} off at college”. I had a close bond with my family before I left, and I feel like that the distance has strengthened my relationship with them. My dad will call me on his way home from work and I will facetime my mom whenever I want to show her something. They have even made snapchat accounts just to send me cute pictures of our cats. Just as I adapted to a life without them, they are adapting to a life where I am over one hundred miles away.

This is my Dad and his new kitten, Toothless, who is barely two months old in this picture

In this generation, the traditional newspaper and handwritten letters have become obsolete. Those activities can be done through the usage of the internet. News corporations are posting their articles online and a few text messages can speed up the process of receiving the information. Earlier, I stated a theory by the name of “The #Paperless Theory”. Students are using their handheld devices to stay in touch with family and friends from all over the world. The distance of college no longer poses a threat to losing touch with the important people in a student’s life thanks to smartphones and social media.

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