If you have a regular entourage of hometown friends, traveling a lot can create both a physical and emotional distance. Luckily, there are ways to use social media to keep up with life back home, show that you care, and maintain your friendships, even while away. My only caveat is that everyone is different and has different sensibilities, so what works for one friend, might not work for another.
1. Stalk your friends
It’s hard to keep tabs on everything your friends are up to, but Facebook Events can be a helpful place to start. Make a note of the events your friends are attending, or check out the list in your suggested events. Comment on their activity or ask them about the concert, gallery opening, or flash sale they attended. Is a friend throwing a party you can’t go to? Attend on Facebook anyway and post sad photos of your FOMO in the event to show you wished you could share the moment with them.
2. Like their photos
Maybe it’s the fourth or fifth cat photo they post in a row — doesn’t matter, give it the ol’ double tap. Don’t be a snob because your latest Instagram photo was of a sunset in Corsica. Their day-to-day lives are just as important and merit your attention and witty comments.
3. Include them in your trip
Don’t bombard people with “wish you were here” texts and shoutouts which can come across as humblebrag-ish. Instead, send your friends a snap of a dog that looks like theirs, a street sign that is their name, or a funny story that made you think of them. Send them travel videos and photos that are more about them than you.
4. Don’t neglect group texts and emails
People understand you might not have the most reliable wi-fi and that you’re in a different time zone, but that doesn’t mean you should go silent on that group chat about an upcoming surprise party. Traveling is a pretty great excuse, but might make people resent you for not pulling your weight.
5. Be thoughtful
If a friend mentions an important event coming up, like a thesis defense, a tough conversation with a loved one, or a stressful deadline, make a note in your calendar to follow up with them after the fact. It’ll show that you are listening and that even though you’re away, they can still “come to you”.
6. If it doesn’t work, don’t take it personally
Everyone is busy, and just like in point 1), it’s hard to keep tabs on what your friends are up to. If they don’t remember exactly where you are right now and why, don’t be offended. If they lose interest after an hour of travel tales and photos, don’t blame them. Nothing substitutes the lived experience, so second hand stories might not be as exciting as you think.