An open letter to my sister, Ingrid.
Dear Sister – You’ve recently moved to Sweden. Northern semi-rural Sweden to be more precise. After the ten years you spent as the American Sector’s Berlin correspondent, I think it’s fair to say we’ve both grown used to the distance. But now, you have moved to a new town and the distance between you and your friends and loved ones probably feels greater than ever. So here are some suggestions about how we can all stay better connected. It all starts with that series of tubes we know as the interwebs. (They do have internet connections on the north pole, right?) Many of these things you have dabbled in, others you probably will scoff at. But now is a perfect time and situation to give it the old college try.
Flickr – you and Thomas already have an account, and that’s great. Now use it. Try to take a photo every day. It can be of the kids, of the sun barely rising over the tree line, or a moose walking through your backyard. Just carry your camera with you everywhere and take a picture everyday. Try to post them to Flickr once a week. You do that, and I will do the same.
Blog it. You are living a crazy Northern Exposure adventure right now (I smell a new sitcom for CBS), and all your friends want to hear about how its going. The good, the bad, the funny, the sad, the snow. Direct phone calls and emails will remain important, but having an outlet for the everyday thoughts and reflections is important. This will be valuable not only for us, but also for the you and your family when you look back at your time in Sweden. Try to do a blog entry twice a week.
You have two small kids, so I understand that time and energy is a scarcity most days. In between blogging, you can use Twitter to send text messages to all of us about the smaller going ons in Hudiksvall. We can get the rest of the family to set up accounts. That way, you can whip out the phone and type “Fiona just mixed 3 languages to ask for a cookie”, send it and you’re done and we’ll all have a laugh – and it won’t feel like we are all a half world away. I don’t know the details of using Twitter in Europe, but according to this site, it’s being used all around the world.
Ok – here’s where you will get resistant. Get a Facebook account. I know, I know. But at least give it a try. You don’t need to be a daily user or indicate who you hooked up with in college, but it will make you easily findable and get you in touch with friends you have not seen or heard from in years. Once you set it up, your Flickr shots, your blog, and your Twitter account can all feed into your Facebook profile. It will become a one-stop shop for your friends back in the US and Berlin. Also, it will drive your young cousin Madeline crazy that another older relative has invaded her social network. That, right there, is worth the effort.
Let’s try to build out the family tree on Geni. I started it, and you and others have added to it. But let’s take some time this year and fill it out further. It will be a fun activity for our kids, and remind them who their favorite uncle is (did they get that envelope of $10 bills?). Also, Geni sends you birthday reminders for your family (which has led some extended family members to mistake me for thoughtful and detail oriented).
And on a selfish note – get a Google Talk account. It’s the IM system I use. I imagine there are many times where I am getting to work and you are online after the kids have gone to sleep. We’ll see that we’re both online, and can have a quick chat.
This whole letter may expose me as a complete fraud. I use all these services, but sometimes I get extreme internet fatigue and let them stand stagnant for weeks (or months – yikes!) But, I’ll make you a deal. You set this stuff up and I’ll try harder on my updates and it will be worth our time.
Or….just write me a postcard now and again.
Update: Andrew over at Cheap Shot Posse reminds me that I missed the most obvious of all – Skype. Thanks, Andrew!