3 things I learned from telling stories with my friends

Today’s post is the second of a 2-part series from guest writer Andy Terbovich.  He shares with us some of the lessons he learned from creatively connecting with long-distance friends.  To read part 1 of the series, click here.

I came up with this story-telling idea because building and maintaining relationships is hard, especially today. Like a lot of people, my social network scattered widely across the country after college. Some people moved home, some moved to where the work was, and some had the work move them. Over a few years, I myself ended up doing all three.

Social media helped me stay in touch in general. It gave me a rough idea of what was going on in people’s lives. Honestly, for many of my acquaintances that was good enough. It kept me in the loop for big announcements–weddings, children, illnesses, relocations. But it didn’t have the comfortable feeling of a personal conversation that I was used to with my close friends.

I wanted to recreate our wide-ranging talks, where we would tell stories about the past, present, and future of our lives and beliefs. To be fair, I also wanted to laugh about the stupid things we did when we were younger, stories that do not belong on a Facebook wall. These private audio letters and stories worked in a way that social media didn’t and filled this gap.

There are three things that I learned through this process.

The first is that friends and family have lots of stories you haven’t heard.

They’re willing to share more than you think, provided they have a reason to bring it up. The truth is if you’re good friends then they’ll probably be happy to share.

The second is that voice is still more powerful than text.

Talking conveys a story quickly and easily, but there’s so much more information overlaid. You get timing, inflection, laughter, emotion, and a real sense for what the person means.  You get to hear all the little asides and vocal mannerisms that would never make it into a text message or get edited out of an email.

The last is that friendships are not always meant to be public affairs in front of the whole world.

Even if you’re just telling jokes and nonsense stories, it means more when it’s direct and personal. The way you talk to your best friend is different than how you talk to your mother, and talking to small groups of people you trust allows you to open up differently than if you were posting something for the whole world.

This doesn’t mean that social media is totally misguided. Of course an idea like this isn’t the only way to stay in touch. Like anything else, these are all just tools to help you communicate; each fills its specific niche.

But when it comes to talking with people who really matter, and those who you really want to know better, I would encourage you to think outside of wall posts and tagged photos.

Make the effort to talk to them candidly and privately, make it convenient and flexible, and don’t be afraid to push the conversation new ways.

After running this little experiment, I wanted to make it easier for other people to have the same experience. Based on this structure, I built a free mobile app called ONanON to help people drive substantive sharing with friends and family in a quick and convenient. If you would like to try it yourself, visit www.onanonapp.com. Your feedback (andy@onanonapp.comwould be much appreciated to help improve the project.

More about the author:

Andy is a collector of hobbies and passport stamps. After moving through nine cities in ten years, he’s trying to reimagine how people talk with their friends and families and bring back personal, private storytelling in a fun and simple way.

Based on some time spent sharing audio text messages with friends, he built a free mobile app to help people communicate in a new way. He wants to make it easier to stay in touch with old friends, better understand new friends, and hear never-before-heard stories from family members.

You can find out more at www.onanonapp.com.

A new way to connect with friends

Today’s post is part 1 of a 2-part series from guest writer Andy Terbovich.  He shares how he creatively connects with long-distance friends, and what he’s doing to help you do the same.  Enjoy!


About a year ago, I started to really think about how I maintain my relationships with friends and family. Eventually I came up with an idea for an experiment. It ended up being so successful that I am now working on a way to share it with others.

Continue reading

Why you should stop confabulating

Recently Michael and I were talking with a friend, and she mentioned something that we had been discussing a lot lately between the two of us.  He gently nudged me and I nudged him back, smiling knowingly.  It was amusing to us that this topic seemed to keep popping up, and we were enjoying the secret knowledge of its connection to our previous conversations as we kept talking with our friend.

I offhandedly mentioned that to her later.

“Oh good!,” she said.  “I thought I’d said something silly and you guys were laughing at me.”

Continue reading

What happens when we play the blame game

I got angry with my husband a few nights ago. I was obviously upset, so he asked me what was going on. I told him, even though I knew I shouldn’t have.  It was late and we were already tired, and the inevitable fight happened because neither of us could deal with the extra tension through our already frayed nerves.  

Later, he expressed how he had wished I hadn’t brought up what was troubling me so late at night. “Well, you asked!” I shot back at him.  

Continue reading

A gentle reminder when you’re tempted to hoard your time

It’s easy to talk about the idea of incorporating Minga into your daily life.  It feels great to say you value spending your time on others.  It’s a lot harder, however, to actually do it.

Since I quit my job last year, my life has changed drastically.  For one thing, I’ve been challenged to create better personal and professional habits.  Personal discipline is an absolute necessity if you’re working for yourself.

Continue reading

Tips for breaking the ice

On Monday I encouraged you to put yourself out there and meet one of your neighbors.

However, that’s a tall order indeed for someone who’s never put themselves out there before.  If you go to an event, you can at least be fairly certain that the people you meet there share an interest with you.  What do you talk about with someone with whom you may have absolutely nothing in common?  Read on for a few tips for casually and easily breaking the ice with anyone you meet.

Continue reading