Monthly Archives: July 2014

If You Don’t Actually Know All Your Facebook Friends, Try Meeting Them in Person Like Ty Morin and Mikel McLaughlin

Do you really KNOW all your Facebook friends? Would you recognize more than half of them if you walked by them on the street? Does your group of Facebook friends include some people that you have never even met personally, or at least have not seen in decades?

For many of us, assembling a large group of Facebook friends has become a social norm. And part of that norm is to beef up that list with people we don’t really, actually know. I recently came across articles about two Facebook regulars who have set out to change that. They took a vow to go out in the world in search of their Facebook friends, and to meet with them face-to-face, rather than laptop to laptop.

The first pioneer was Ty Morin, a photographer who announced that he would personally meet all 788 of his Facebook friends and then put together a documentary on those meetings and how it affected him:

News of his project surfaced about a year and a half ago. Earlier this year, Mikel McLaughlin made a similar vow and has been blogging about his face-to-face meetings with Facebook friends: Even if he used to know these “friends,” he is discovering that sitting down with them and just talking about their lives for an hour or longer instantly enables him to know that person much better than he had ever known them before.

Does this sound like an intriguing idea to you? You don’t have to go all-in to try this as an experiment. Maybe you want to take a smaller number of your Facebook friends, perhaps choosing 50 men and women whom you hardly know or have not seen in years. Then initiate direct contact with them, and see where it goes. The exercise could prove to be a valuable reminder that in today’s social environment, we often say we know a great many people but, in reality, we don’t. But we can change that, and be enriched in the process.

If you are writing your life story, this kind of exploration may be especially revealing, and fun, for you to embark on. So give it some thought. Your “friends” may be waiting for you.

– Kevin Quirk helps women and men of all ages and backgrounds tell the most important stories of their lives, including stories about friends they have known, in his role as autobiography ghostwriter and personal historian. He is the author of “Your Life Is a Book And It’s Time to Write It: An A-to-Z Guide to Help Anyone Write Their Life Story.”

Autobiography Ghostwriter Kevin Quirk Plans to Mark His 60th Birthday with a Revisit, Reminisce and Reconnect Tour

When I interview women and men in my role as personal historian and autobiography ghostwriter, I often invite them to share stories from memorable birthdays. Sometimes that invitation opens the door to birthdays in which that person goes back in time. That’s what I’m choosing to do for my extended 60th birthday.

The plan is shaping up for mid-August, about a month after my actual birthday. The idea is to return to places that have been important in my life though I seldom spend much time there anymore. I seek to reminisce, revisit, and perhaps rekindle…something…I’m not yet sure what.

First stop is the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, the holistic educational center where I lived and worked for several years. It was my home base for sorting out new directions and new possibilities in my life. It’s also the place where my wife Krista and I met, 25 years ago this summer. Our jobs overlapped, with me serving as Director of Housing in charge of the cabins, dorms, and camp sites for attendees and Krista in charge of arrangements for the faculty. We enjoyed a few nice talks, walked the perimeter of the lake together a few times, and even went to a movie, “Field of Dreams,” which celebrated Krista’s home state of Iowa while paying homage to Boston’s Fenway Park, my backyard all through college. Of course, it would take us three more years of only occasional letter writing (pre-email) to finally see the potential of a relationship, but that’s another story!

Then it’s on to the coast of Maine, where my parents frequently took our family for summer vacations. Their goal, as we heard it often, was to retire somewhere along that coast. Maybe run a little motel near Boothbay Harbor. It never happened, but it makes for a poignant memory. I’ve only prowled the coast a couple of times in the last 45 years, so I’m looking forward to going back in time in that region. We’ll be based down south near York but I know I’ll make it at least as far north as Camden.

Then I will make a stop in my hometown: Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. My parents moved away from there when I left for college in 1972, and I have no family in Shrewsbury today. I have passed through every now and then, but haven’t really explored the town in decades. I’m going to do that now, spurred by joining the Facebook group “If you grew up in Shrewsbury you remember…” I do remember more, more than I thought I did, and somehow as I turn 60 it’s become not only more important but more meaningful. I especially remember growing up on Lake Quinsigamond, and I’m looking forward to getting back out on the water where I first would explore in our rowboat and then in the fastest canoe on the lake!

Then it’s on to Fenway Park, where I attended at least 150 games while living in Shrewsbury and then attending Boston University as an undergrad in the ’70s. I once selected an apartment on Park Drive, despite the ever-present roaches, because it was a six-minute walk to the Fenway bleachers – five minutes for Yankees games. I was in Fenway when Carlton Fisk won Game Six of the 1975 World Series with his foul pole home run. I was back, thanks to my friend John, for the ’78 playoff heartbreak with the Yankees. The last time I sat in Fenway was more than 20 years ago. It remains one of those places that remind us that while much has changed, some things are still pretty much the same.

I don’t have any great expectations for this experience of remembering and honoring these past places that form part of the backdrop of my life. My plan is to show up and be present. Who knows? Maybe when I sit in some “Writing Your Life Story” class like the classes I teach today, I will be able to call up my memories, and the feelings and associations behind them, when I went back in time to mark my 60th birthday.

– Kevin Quirk helps women and men of all ages, backgrounds and places write their life stories as personal historian and autobiography ghostwriter. He is the author of “Your Life Is a Book And It’s Time to Write It,” and the place he now lives in is Crozet, Virginia.