The cheapest way for me to stay in touch with them was through Skype, Facebook, ICQ and Yahoo Messanger. Skype, was obviously my favourite tool as it allows me to conduct video calls. (AFP PHOTO)

IT snowed today in Vienna. The morning started with soft, gentle flurries, which melted into droplets of water once it touched your skin. Slowly, the grounds and trees became enveloped in thick, white snow, and you could see people walking cautiously on the slippery pathways, going about their daily routine.

The cold, crisp morning reminded me of the first time I experienced snow, here, in Vienna. Oh, how different were things back then, in 2008. I was thousands of kilometres away from my family, alone and approaching the third trimester of my pregnancy.

Homesick, I cried myself to sleep during my first few weeks in the cold wintry nights, doubting the decision I made to pursue my PhD in a country whose people spoke German, a language I was not familiar with. I missed Malaysian food, the warm sunshine and being around Malaysians.

But, above all, I missed my family so much and long to be in the comforting arms of my husband. I wanted to hear their voices everyday, but phone calls burnt a hole in my pocket.

The cheapest way for me to stay in touch with them was through Skype, Facebook, ICQ and Yahoo Messanger. Skype, was obviously my favourite tool as it allows me to conduct video calls.

Sometimes, I would have conversations with my son Dani, who was merely a toddler. At other times, I took the opportunity to read with him or recite ABC.

Most of the time, however, I would find myself rushing home from class, just to spend my evenings, watching Dani and Amir go about their routine, playing, watching dvd and even sleeping.

This was my routine, for four years, throughout the long distance marriage. It wasn’t easy, but my small family and I tried our best to make it work.

You see, while I had the incessant fear that my son would one day forget about me, due to the distance, technology has enabled us to constantly stay in touch. Dani may not have the opportunity to have me next to him in real life, but I was always there virtually.

Admittedly, the technology, about a decade ago, was not as impressive as it is today. Internet, was something that was familiar to almost everybody, but connectivity was reserved to desktop computers or laptops.

Having Internet on your smartphone was a luxury and WiFi was not easily available at shopping malls, eateries and even at home! But we made do with what we had.

Even today, I still video call my family when I am abroad. Fortunately for us, current technology sees almost all telcos providing internet at a competitive rate and the creation of various applications for smartphones, which allow users to easily make phone calls or video calls.

It is fascinating how innovation and technology transform and benefit people’s life. The ability to immediately respond to someone, through calls, or comment on a

social media account, regardless of distance and time zones is amazing.

Gone are the days when important and urgent news were conveyed via telegrams. Now, a piece of information can be relayed within seconds. In fact, live telecasts are not exclusive to television anymore as various social media applications allow its users to broadcast their daily musings to anyone watching, worldwide.

Hence, anyone and everyone can share whatever they fancy, online. As much as it sounds great, there are possibilities that the information shared could be misused or may come to haunt you.

Most apps try to address this issue by introducing features such as privacy controls. Instagram recently introduced a new feature which enable users to detect if their posts have been screenshot by followers to ensure that photographs published are not misappropriated.

However, as users, I believe, we would also need to play our part in being careful with what we share online. It is important to be cautious, otherwise we will be caught

in the uncertain tangles of technology.

sabariah@ukm.edu.my

UKM Centre of Corporate Communications Director Dr Sabariah Mohamed Salleh believes that honesty and trust is essential in a long distance marriage.

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