Alienation is an engine that moves while at the same time debilitates the 'advancement' that's achieved with technology in our ultra-mobile society. As people move around, growing further apart, having a hard time staying in one place for very long, they often snatch at anything that lends the feeling of connectivity and sharing between beings. Tools of artificial closeness, such as discussion groups, email, web-logs, wireless phone mail, etc. are invented and marketed more vigorously with each passing day. Unfortunately, unless one's friends and family are ravenous readers, blessed with mountains of time and money, or simply questing thinkers and artists and we fountains of creativity and glib wisdom, it seems the distance we seek to negate gets less negligible as the novelty of electronic closeness wears thin.
Go for the real thing this holiday season. Really touch someone, pour out the soul of your heart to someone you miss. They may be yearning for just that sort of interaction. They might not be so far away, after all.
The follow-ups might become easier as you keep this sort of interaction growing.
Who knows? You might have to take a pay cut and move physically closer, but the spiritual and emotional rewards might surprise you. Perhaps the substitute will still work best for you in your current situation. Just don't let alienation tear at your relationships, aye?