Technology makes long distance relationships less of an issue

Just as distance makes the heart grow fonder, it can also make a phone bill grow pricier, a list of apps grow longer and a laptop grow much more vital.

Long-distance couples may be spending Valentine’s Day alone, but, with the help of technology, there’s hope that it won’t be completely sans significant other.

Some girls on campus will curl their hair and slip on their best Valentine’s outfit tonight, either headed to a romantic dinner or a bar in protest of the Hallmark holiday. I, however, will be curled up in my room with three necessities: computer, iPhone and chocolate — the recipe for a “Skype date” with my Valentine.

I have quickly realized the beauty of technology in my relationship, as it has (figuratively and literally) helped close the gap between Champaign and my boyfriend’s Air Force base in Georgia. Long-distance relationships have become much more feasible with the help of technology like Skype, FaceTime and even simple telephone calls.

Mike Ollmann, senior in Business, and his girlfriend Emma prove that long-distance love can survive even across different hemispheres. Ollmann met his girlfriend while studying abroad in Hong Kong in Fall 2010. She was also studying abroad from her home in Helsinki, Finland.

After returning home, the pair decided to try their relationship long-distance, and have been together for about a year and three months since. But with different time zones and the cost of international phone service, their saving grace has been their Android smart phones — without which, Ollmann admits, their relationship might not have worked out as well.

Ollmann uses Google Talk, the mobile version of Gmail’s G-Chat; and Google Voice, which costs 10-15 cents per minute. Like me, Ollmann will spend his V-Day video chatting with his sweetheart, but instead of Skype they use Gmail’s video chat feature.

Another form of video chat available on the iPhone 4G, FaceTime, allows users to video chat using the camera on the front of their phone. Since I have yet to upgrade from my 3G, my boyfriend and I use other iPhone features, such as picture messaging and a variety of apps.

Couples can take texting one step further by using apps like HeyTell, a voice messenger app; and Voxer, a Walkie Talkie app, because some things are just better left spoken, not typed.

It’s no surprise that the hardest part about a long-distance relationship is not being able to see each other or share experiences. Well, there’s also an app for that.

Apps like Kayak and Orbitz make it easier to book the cheapest flights for visiting your significant other. Also, an impromptu road trip for a weekend getaway can be made easier with GasBuddy, an app that locates the cheapest gas in the area.

On the bright side, Ollmann said, “being apart makes the time we get to see each other even more enjoyable, and we don’t take any moment for granted.”

In the meantime, Ollmann and his girlfriend talk every day from when he wakes up until late afternoon when she goes to sleep.

As for me, I have my Spring Break trip to Georgia booked, and until then, my laptop charged.

_Jordan is a junior in Media._