Long Distance Relationships and The Technology They Use

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Long distance relationships in this day in age are unique from any other time period. This is because now than ever before couples have multiple ways to communicate and keep in touch. Margery Wang, a recent doctoral graduate from The Wright Institute explains in a podcast of “Insight with Dick Goldberg” that there has been an increasing amount of long distance relationships due to this technology, especially within college populations. She claims this is because many high school gradates are aware of the new technology, and are confident that their relationships would overcome the distance with the technological aid.

This same idea is also addressed in Tenani’s hilarious YouTube video “Long Distance Relationship Survival Guide,” along with some other great advice.

However, there are many different new types of communication that have been developed fairly recently. Which begs the question, what types communication technology do long distance couples prefer?

In the academic article “Satisfaction and the Use of Social Media in Geographically Distant Relationships” written by Rachelle Delva, Alaina Eiman, Engert Makenna, Bridget Naiman, and Orellana Gricel, a survey was taken asking long distance couples about how they communicate. After collecting their data it was found that 31% of participants prefered utilizing face-to-face technology. Many participants made comments such as, “I would advise Skype and Facetime. If anything it is better to see them than to just hear your voice” or “There is nothing better than hearing the voice and seeing the face of that special someone you can’t physically be with.” Deborah Chambers who wrote, “Social Media And Personal Relationships. [Electronic Resource] : Online Intimacies And Networked Friendship” explains that many partners in long distance relationships prefer these types of communication because, “voice communication such as telephone, Skype and SMS signify intimacy.” It is also likely that couples prefer this type of communication because they are able to communicate through various channels of communication.

J. Dan Rothwell in his book “In theCompany of Others” explains “Face-to-face communication is channel rich, it incorporates multiples channels besides words, such as gestures, facial expression, tone of voice, postures, and other nonverbal cues.” Because communication forms such as Skype or FaceTime, have the ability to transfer these channels through a screen, the couples have multiple ways of communicating to one another.This allows the partners to better interpret what the other one is saying and creates a more efficient flow of communication, unlike texting where Rothwell explains, “we are more likely to be abusive, insulting offensive and intemperate in our communication.”

I personally was curious about this hypothesis and wanted to do my own investigating. I interviewed 3 people attending James Madison University who are currently in a long distance relationship. Surprising enough, they 2/3 preferred simply texting than the channel rich Skype or FaceTime. When I asked why, they all mentioned how convenient it was to text back in forth rather than find the time to both of the partners to sit down and use the computer. This was a very small sample group, so I cannot disprove Delva, Eiman, Makenna, Naiman and Gricel research, but it just goes to show how every relationship is different. The simple fact that partners have the choice to choose how they communicate is an impressive advancement of technology on it’s own.

Audio for interviews

By Amanda Bennett

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