Back in the early eighties when my husband and I embarked on our first overseas posting to Nigeria, the only way we kept in touch with our parents and family back home was to write a letter. This was subject to the vagaries of the bag and flights between London and Lagos which meant that on average two weeks elapsed between despatch and receiving of a letter either way. The upside of this is that we have a well documented account of our early life overseas.
Fast forward to 2005 when we set off on our last posting. By this time writing old fashioned letters was a craft of the past, and email and Skype were well and truly in. At the same time that we were in Singapore our daughter was in Japan on a student study visit for 4 months and documented her stay by writing a blog. Another eight years on and we are now in the position that our parents were over 30 years ago with our daughter living and working in New Delhi – is it surprising that British Council children get itchy feet and head overseas themselves?!
Our routine now is a text message to check when we are around followed up with a video Skype chat. The upside we get to see and talk to each other in a way that was never possible with our parents, but very little is written. On the other hand photographs and social media now document and share what in the past would have been described using the written word. On a recent trip my daughter made to the mountains in India we were able to see the photos she was taking and exchange messages thanks to an IPhone, Facebook and Instagram almost as soon as they were taken! How will we keep in touch in thirty years’ time I wonder..?