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Stay Connected With Family Even When You Live Apart

Andrew Ronald
Simirity Founder | Father of two

In the modern world, keeping in touch with family becomes increasingly challenging. After all, how can a family that is spread out over different towns or countries hope to feel genuinely connected and support one another? It’s a common problem these days, as work, relationships, and lifestyle choices increase the distance between family groups. 

Is it even achievable for everyone to feel connected when physically separated? Family members separated by a long-distance often accept that relationships will weaken as a result. They reluctantly acknowledge that family stories will be forgotten and their children’s relationships with their cousins and extended family will weaken. And they watch doting grandparents feel more isolated and separated from their grandchildren who mean the world to them… 

But why can’t modern technologies do more to help bridge the distance between family members? Helping you maintain a happy, supportive and connected family, even if you live in different time zones. 

A family connected by hands.
One family feeling together, even if they live apart.

Simirity is a family business. Meeting my parents and sister’s family requires a plane journey. We used all the usual digital services to stay in touch:

  • Videos calls.
  • Social media.
  • Messaging apps.
  • Photo-sharing apps and cloud storage solutions.

They helped, but we still felt outside of each other’s lives in many ways. And our children who don’t even use those services were isolated from their grandparents, aunt and cousins for 49 weeks in the year.

We felt stuck—we can’t live closer, but we also don’t want to accept losing touch with the people we love. So we built the Simirity App to help our entire family keep in touch and support one another despite living apart. 

Simirity App is a private storytelling app that unites your extended family in stories, even if you live apart.

Over time, your entire family can build an archive of digital stories, filled with memorable photos, videos and audio, that share your experiences with young generations.

Introduction to the Simirity App.

In this article, we explore nine challenges often experienced by families who live apart and how Simirity can help. 

Jump to section:

Challenge 1 – Swapping Stories From Our Lives

When families live apart, there is no obvious channel for swapping stories that go beyond simple updates:

  • An email is too formal.
  • A message app is for chats, not stories.
  • Discussions on a video call is best, if time allows, and time zones don’t get in the way…
  • And what about more sensitive topics or challenges you would like others’ opinions on?

Nothing feels optimal for important conversations like these when you live apart.

As a result, even people wanting to share their stories often fail to do so. It’s a gradual thing, but over time family members know each other less and less.

And stories are so important you don’t want to miss out on them; they’re far more than just information. They help us make sense of the world and connect us with the storyteller and their thought process. Listening to family stories makes us wiser and more strongly connected to loved ones.

How Simirity helps with a library of your family’s stories

Simirity is your family’s global channel for stories.

It was custom designed for you to create timeless stories that your family can view, listen to, and respond to when they have free time. This fosters strong family connections as people learn about each other’s lives and viewpoints.

A library of family stories, clicks away, and safe for future generations. With comprehensive filtering and search, so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.

Challenge 2 – Open Communication

Even within families that are physically nearby, it’s common for everyone to communicate with the mother, who relays the message to others if needed. However, this doesn’t help build an optimal family dynamic where everyone has equal access to everyone else.

Research shows that in thriving families there are many lines of communication – everyone talks to each other directly. 

When families live apart, it’s harder for everyone to communicate freely – to share a laugh, a thought or perhaps a challenge they’re facing. Typically, remote families use messaging apps like WhatsApp and connect virtually on popular video chat apps like FaceTime, Skype or Zoom. The problem is that often it’s not an ‘open communication’, as many people are excluded. 

So slowly but surely, families living apart lose open lines of communication.

How Simirity helps using stories to encourage family-wide discussions

In Simirity your whole family, including your extended family, are all privately connected on the same platform that’s designed for family members of all ages.

Here, you can share historical family stories, day-to-day happenings, learnings and thoughts in multimedia stories. Publish your stories with everyone for truly ‘open communication’; if it’s more private, choose the select few who can access it. Children, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents all have their own accounts and can connect as one happy family. 

New family stories stimulate conversations, either using the story comments within the app or on your next call. Now everyone from grandchildren to grandparents is updated with the latest news, and everyone can share their comments and thoughts on stories, photos and videos.

To further promote family-wide discussions, everyone is notified about story anniversaries every day. Reminding you of past times and inspiring new conversations and laughter that involve everyone.

By connecting family in a private family environment and using stories as a way to connect, everyone feels closer and equally valued.

Be reminded about your family’s past with story anniversary notifications. Bringing the past into today’s conversations.

Challenge 3 – Children Feeling Connected with the Wider Family

Children want to be valued members of the family and have their opinions heard. But when family members live far away, it’s hard for them to stay connected with their extended family.

If their cousins and grandparents don’t play a regular part in their lives, children get the impression that their family has shrunk, and family bonds weaken.

How Simirity helps by giving children an engaging role

With their parents’ permission, children can have access to their own Simirity account (age 13+). They are on an equal footing with the adults, with story-writing capabilities, access to family stories and comments, and the ability to request stories on topics they find interesting. They are empowered to play their part in the family and can enjoy the family’s recognition of their contributions. 

The process of connecting with loved ones through stories gives children a stronger sense of identity and belonging.

Please note that parents can create and manage accounts of children younger than 13, preserving stories about their childhood for enjoyment in later years. 

Encourage your children to engage with extended family by asking them questions about their lives using Story Requests.

Challenge 4 – Quality Time With Loved Ones 

Spending quality time with your family is vital, but it is hard when video calls are the best option available.

What does ‘quality time’ really mean? According to the Macmillan Dictionary, quality time means ‘time that you spend with someone, usually your partner or child, doing enjoyable things together so that your relationship remains strong’. 

The problem with a call to family is that often, it’s more about exchanging information rather than actually ‘doing enjoyable things together’.

So it might be useful and informative, but it’s not always ‘quality time’ which makes you feel closer to loved ones. 

How Simirity helps with a venture that involves everyone

Simirity provides something you can enjoy doing together to bridge the gap between you and your family—a shared venture that makes everyone feel more connected. 

  • Co-authoring stories about your shared past and reliving good times in the process. 
  • Brainstorming topics for stories and suggesting stories to each other. 
  • Commenting on and talking to each other about stories. 

Just because you can’t physically be with your family, it doesn’t mean you can’t have the ‘quality time’ needed to strengthen bonds and enhance family well-being. 

Creating stories can be a team activity. One person starts and invites co-authors to join.

Challenge 5 – Resilience and support

Life has its setbacks, and families need to be resilient and assist one another when things don’t go as planned. 

But it’s hard for families to help resolve a conflict or problem when they’re apart. In fact, family members might not even be aware that a problem exists if it’s not shared. The will might be there to help, but message apps and the weekly call don’t seem to be the ideal way to share and tackle the hard things in life.

How Simirity helps by encouraging authentic storytelling

Simirity is not like traditional social media where people put on a brave face, hide their vulnerabilities, and present an unrealistic view of their lives to the whole world.

With Simirity, you get to be yourself and be honest about your concerns. This is your family that you are communicating with! The people who matter most and want the best for you.

If you have a problem, share it so your family can help.

Take the time to get your story right using the written word (which is far easier than face-to-face). Then share it with the people who might be able to help. Even if they can’t help, a problem shared is a problem halved.

If you are reluctant to spell out your specific challenge in a story, send a Story Request to family members about the topic that’s troubling you. Ask if they have ever faced such situations. Perhaps they can talk about their experiences, which in turn might lead to helpful conversations.

Be proactive in your family by anticipating common challenges and creating stories to help.

Family members with experiences to share can proactively create stories about the challenges they’ve faced. Stories with tips about relationships, health, money, career, parenting, mental well-being, and so on can become valuable resources. These precious stories act as beacons of light for others experiencing similar obstacles. Now at least, they know they are not alone, and have someone to turn to for help. 

By sharing authentic stories about tough times in life, authors are saying that it’s OK to have problems and that they’re willing to help.

The ultimate goal would be a library of stories covering all types of life challenges, so that new generations become accustomed to turning to family for help instead of search engines or internalising their problems. Creating a connected family by helping each other through life’s challenges.

Authentic stories, free of adverts and available only to those you choose, are a great way for families to support each other. Real life, told by those we love.

Challenge 6 – Knowledge Sharing From a Distance 

Family knowledge was traditionally passed on by word of mouth. Stories about family experiences and ancestors’ lives were discussed at the dinner table, passing on the knowledge and wisdom to new generations.

But when families live apart, there are fewer opportunities to share knowledge.

Knowledge sharing usually happens when there is sufficient time for it to surface; it’s unlikely to happen on video calls when you’re busy exchanging updates.

The outcome is that valuable knowledge, skills and information about family heritage get forgotten.

How Simirity helps with an archive of shared life lessons

All family-related information and knowledge can be privately saved in media-rich stories available to the entire family and passed on to future generations. Nothing will get forgotten, even when family members pass on.

In addition, short snippets of wisdom can be captured as ‘Life Lessons’. These short paragraphs, contained within stories, offer your family a streamlined way to view everyone’s lessons from life. They can even be organised using tags such as #hard-times-and-disappointments, #growing-older and #enjoying-life, so family members can easily find help on topics that are relevant to them.

Sharing knowledge is an invaluable way to support each other, start conversations and create a connected family.

Help others with short snippets of wisdom presented as text within stories. All your family’s Life Lessons can be viewed on one page, and clicking on one will access its story.

Challenge 7 – Positive Role Models

“Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.”

Anonymous

In a US survey by the University of Phoenix, 2,000 Americans confirmed that they had a role model. The most popular role model was their Father, followed by their Mother, teachers, celebrities and coaches. 

Humans are strongly influenced by the people they interact with. So what hope is there for family members who live abroad to be positive role models if they rarely meet?

How Simirity helps by giving children virtual role models

Parents are the most common role models, but other family members can play their part too.

Your extended family includes great role models—aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, and even deceased ancestors. Just because they don’t live in your house doesn’t mean they can’t be a positive influence from afar. 

Each story about a family member’s experiences, accessed by your children and discussed with you, is an additional interaction that strengthens bonds. It will never be the same as being there in person, but imagine the impact a collection of stories about a family figure can have on a child.

Over time, as the whole family shares their stories, children will feel a part of something that extends far beyond the walls of their home. That feeling of ‘belonging’ plays an important part in how they behave. 

The question is, are your children’s family values stronger than those of their friends or online influencers?

Family stories help sway the balance. 

Challenge 8 – Discussing Life Today Virtually 

Connected families talk about the topics of the day: what’s happening at work, ideas they have, plans for the future, the latest news stories, and so on. Everyone is involved, including children (on age-appropriate topics). 

But living apart makes this hard. And without discussing such topics, families live increasingly separate lives.

How Simirity helps with inspiration for stories that spark discussions

There will never be enough time for all family members to share their thoughts on such topics during the weekly video calls. 

Simirity helps you capture such topics in stories, but just as importantly, it enables you to identify great things to write about.

With hundreds of inspirational ideas for stories within the app and on our website, and more delivered through social media, your family will never be short of ideas for stories. Keeping conversations flowing and encouraging people to share their opinions and insights. Engaging the minds of the young while connecting them to family elders. 

Creating stories you’ll look back on with fond memories, and giving future generations an insight into your lives.

Discover stories that are fun to write and treasured by today’s and tomorrow’s family. 

Challenge 9 – Family Culture

An important part of a family’s culture is the family routines that develop over time. 

Each family is unique, and habits range from watching favourite TV shows together to preparing special meals. We even have annual family traditions, such as specific activities for holidays and New Year celebrations. Rituals and traditions are used by religions, countries, and even businesses to bring people closer together. But when families are apart, they can’t participate in traditions together. 

And some traditions might even get forgotten over time…

How Simirity helps by documenting family traditions and rituals

You might not be able to perform traditional activities together, but you can follow them as separate families and share your experiences. 

Document your traditions in stories, from favourite dinner recipes to exercise routines. By doing so, you are cementing that tradition into your family’s history, enabling others to follow your lead and encouraging future generations to keep up your family traditions.

Find stories that capture your family’s uniqueness using the #Family-Culture.

Next Steps to Stay Connected With Family

Society incorrectly accepts that relationships must weaken as a natural consequence of living apart.

It’s never going to be the same as living together, but Simirity can make it far easier to stay connected with family and friends that matter. You and your family can use Simirity for free or optionally upgrade for an enhanced experience. Learn more about the app on our home page, view an example story or explore the main features.

For those who truly care for one another, no journey, sea, or time zone difference can stop family members from staying connected.

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