About the Trip

I’m taking a cross-country road trip to visit all my Facebook friends in person in order to explore connection and community in the age of social media.

It’s an idea that has manifest in various forms over the past 3 years.  At one point I was going to make a documentary.  At one point I was (with very talented help) petitioning corporate sponsors.  This project has vacillated between dream and death multiple times in the past 3 years, and over 8 weeks this summer, I watched this dream become a reality.

Phase I of Connecting Cross Country took place from June 13th to August 6th, 2011.  I traveled 12,204 miles across 26 states and visited 112 Facebook friends.  Since I’ve returned to Los Angeles, I have continued visiting with my local friends.  I leave on October 5th to complete the journey, visiting the east coast and the south.

So, if I’m passing through your town at a time when you are there, and we are Facebook friends before the trip starts, I will visit you!

About Me

My name is Ann M. Scharnhorst.  I like the M. because it makes my first name look longer.  You can spell my last name to the Mickey Mouse song.  Go ahead, try it.

I was born in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri and lived in the same house until I went to college at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  I am a midwestern thoroughbred, so if you are a stranger, I will talk to you.  I loved growing up in St. Louis, where I had a very cultural, albeit sheltered, upbringing.  I also loved going to school in Ann Arbor, so much so that I stuck around for a couple years after I got my psychology degree.  I worked a couple jobs.  I fell in love with life in a college town.  I learned how to cope with building community in a transient environment.

And then I became the transient when I up and moved to Los Angeles on a week’s notice to take an internship.  From there I entered grad school, kept interning, and ended up with a Master’s of Arts in Theological Studies with a Global Leadership emphasis.  I’ve been in LA 6 years now, and sometimes, I’m still not used to how quickly life can change in this city.

I joined Facebook about 3 1/2 years ago after having resisted for a long time.  I was home over the holidays.  I was bored.  So I joined.  Ever since, I have been fascinated by how people use social media to connect.  I am often puzzled, troubled, and excited by how Facebook is changing the way that people interact with one another.  And so, I thought I’d hit the road and explore it myself.

About my Transportation

I’ll be driving my 2002 Ford Focus ZX5, which I got in 2004 with a mere 26,000 miles.  At the onset of the trip, Lil’ Blue (so named because Michigan is Big Blue, and it’s a little car) has 163,170 miles.  So my car and I have logged a lot of time together.  The radio doesn’t work (I wear one earbud of an iPod), it’s on it’s 2nd transmission, and I’ve had more side view mirrors replaced than I care to admit.  But Lil’ Blue is a trooper, and we’re gonna keep on truckin’ as far as we can!


3 Responses

  1. Ann, this is so cool. Thanks for sending me the link so I can follow your journey.

  2. When Facebook isn’t enough…. I love the idea of this journey, Ann. I loved seeing your face light up when we met again after 6 years. I love the hugs you gave me. Virtual hugs are not even close to reality. I love you. Thanks for including me on your adventures. You are Odysseus, visiting the little islands of community across the U.S.

  3. I am so impressed with you! Not only is this a fantastic idea but a lot of people would be very out of their comfort zones doing something like this. I hope you make it through Knoxville! We have an extra bedroom! 🙂

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