I never realised how many people move away. It shouldn’t come as such a surprise, as everyone wants different things and yearns for new adventures, but somehow I wasn’t ready for it.
The years since graduating from university have been marked by friends leaving for something new. And while I am so happy for them, it is accompanied by a sense of sadness. You can’t help but wonder if you’ll ever live in the same place again. The days when you could walk down a corridor to their room are gone, and now your friendship lives primarily through screens.
But the cliche of long-distance friends slowly fading doesn’t have to be the case. You can stay close to your friends living far away from you, and it isn’t just about phone calls. Here are 6 apps that make it easier to stay in contact with long-distance friends.
Chatting with your long-distance friends isn’t always enough. One of the things you miss is simply being able to hang out and watch a movie together. This is how Teleparty comes in handy. This plug-in can be downloaded for free and allows you to create a showing of a film or TV show with other people. It works for all current streaming platforms, including Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
You all need to have accounts for the streaming platform, but you can be in different countries. Then to watch something, one person starts a watch party and sends the link to others. This ensures you’re all watching at the exact same time, including whenever you pause. You also have a chat bar at the side where you can message and react to whatever you’re watching together.
When I got Covid in June, this was a lifesaver. I felt really lonely, so I appreciated being able to watch a series with my friends and discuss it.
I was a little late to the BeReal party, as like most people, I assumed it was another teenager fad. But despite being delayed, I am a huge fan now.
On BeReal, you add specific friends on the app. Then once a day, all at the same time, no matter where you are, you get a notification to post a photo. You take a selfie and a photo right in front of you. It encourages you to do it right away, to ensure it’s truly real, but you can always do it slightly later if you’re in the middle of getting changed or in a meeting and have it marked ‘late’. These photos become a timeline, where you can post photo reactions to each other or comment.
I love BeReal for two reasons. Firstly, it removes the pressure on Instagram. You take photos as you are. You don’t overthink it because only your closest friends will see it, and the whole point is to strip back the facade. Secondly, you get this little insight into people’s days. Yeah, about 50% of the time my BeReal is me working behind my laptop, but it shows people what my work day looks like. You see their view as well as theirs, and that’s such a nice sneak peek.
I really recommend downloading BeReal with your long-distance friends, as it’s a great way to feel involved in their daily life and be that little step closer to them.
After getting BeReal, another of my friends suggested Locket. So Locket is a widget that you have on your home screen. Just like BeReal, you add friends to it. Whenever you post a photo, usually a selfie, it automatically goes to the widget on their home screens. It stays there until the next person posts one.
There’s something so heartwarming about having your best friend’s face on your home screen. It’s this little moment where you’re less alone. It’s also hilarious when it’s a close-up selfie or something really random. The last one I sent was right after a bird pooped on me during my run.
It also reminds me to message someone if I’ve forgotten, as they’re right there on my home screen. It’s truly a way to keep people close to you and personalise your phone screen.
Cappucino works in the same line of thought as BeReal; only it’s verbal. Once a day you can make a recording, where you share a funny story or summary of your day. The app then compiles them into one ‘podcast’ for you to listen to. It’s often really funny, and nothing beats hearing someone’s voice when you live so far away.
What I like about Capuccino compared to BeReal is that you can have separate groups for different people. There’s some stuff you might not want your family members to know, or that’s specific to a different friend group. It also gives you way more room to share.
I feel about sixteen years old recommending this, probably because I started using Snapchat at that age!
Snapchat allows you to add friends and send them photos that disappear after a certain number of seconds - set by you. You can also add captions or write messages in a chat.
I don’t use Snapchat much anymore except for one group chat. That chat is the sole reason I haven’t deleted this app. It has three of us, and we’ll randomly send a funny picture with a caption of something that happened to us. Or we’ll use it to ask for outfit advice or other things. I love being able to see my best friend’s faces and have that little window to them. It’s also preferable over other apps as the temporary nature of it means you’re not restricted by how you look or feel self-conscious.
Everyone knows Instagram, but I want to talk specifically about the Close Friends feature. On Instagram, you can make a list of specific followers you want to see your Close Friends story.
This is a great way to remove the stress of Instagram and still share parts of your day with specific people. You can design your Close Friends list to be your long-distance friends and share parts of your day with them without the rest of your followers seeing it.
Last year I wrote about how Instagram has changed and become more daunting, and I think the solution to this lies in the Close Friends feature and photo dumps. They allow us to use the app without overthinking it.
There you have it: 6 apps that keep you in touch with long-distance besties! It’s never been easier to stay close from a distance. Many of these apps came from the Covid period and have since flourished into something to stay. See what works for you and your friends, and remember that it doesn’t have to replace phone calls or messaging; it’s an addition to that. It helps to fill in the gaps that regular communication can’t quite reach.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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