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Life-Altering Experiences: How a Single Question Tapped into the Soul of MetaFilter [Kindle Edition]

Phil Dhingra , Jeremy Osborn
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 101 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

How do people change? That is the question that Jeremy Osborn sought to answer when he created what is still one of MetaFilter's most popular threads. Users poured their hearts out, and the stories comprise some of the greatest, spontaneous Internet writing ever. Phil Dhingra latched onto this thread, and curated 56 of the best stories into this book. You will laugh, you will cry, but most importantly, you will begin to understand what it truly means to have a life-altering experience.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Phil Dhingra is a programmer, author, and public speaker. His writing and talks focus on topics of personal change. In March of 2012, he visited Hallmark Cards and delivered a keynote speech on self-improvement and app development. His second book Character & Chemistry is all about "finding the one". Phil also blogs under the nickname "Philosophistry".

Product Details

  • File Size: 209 KB
  • Print Length: 101 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Nuclear Elements (June 16, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,260,029 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
The book is a compilation of bite sized stories filled with tales of powerful moments that changed people's lives. They range in topic from the memory of hearing the Ramones for the first time to someone having their first brush with death. The book captures those seemingly insignificant moments that are seared into our brain and change us forever.

Many of the stories are focused on childhood but told from the point of view of the adult and how that moment impacted their lives. My particular favorites were the stories of people becoming aware of their consciousness for the first time - having your first independent real thought, realizing you are your own person and being fully aware of it.

The take away for me was that every moment and every encounter has the potential to change my life. And every word spoken, especially to a child, has the potential to bring about positive or negative change in their life. I will guard my words a bit more carefully from now on.

Definitely recommend this book. It was a fast and powerful read!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and thought provoking June 14, 2012
By Dusty
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Life-Altering Experiences" brings a small slice of Internet sub-culture to paperback, but more so, it illustrates just how much variety there is in the human experience via a collection of short stories. Admittedly my favorite part about reading this book was considering what short story about my life I'd like to add to it. This book will put you in the mood for some introspection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice compilation of diverse experiences June 15, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is a compilation of several responses to this question posted on an online forum:

"Can you point to a single experience in your life, as a child, which you can define as having contributed to the person you are today?"

The question obviously produced a lot of different answers from people with all kinds of backgrounds/experiences. This is the first time I have read or come across a book that is a compilation of internet posts. At first, it felt a little strange reading a book with internet chat/posts/instant messaging lingo, but by the end it felt natural and was very enjoyable. It lent a real objectivity to the text and infused each person's personality into their own story. It's kind like when Forrest Forrest Gump said, "Life is like a box of never what you're gonna get." Each short post has its own unique language, personality, and message. The posts are organized into sections like Trust From Parents, Racism, Veganism, Nature and Exploring, and Epiphanies.

I liked this one from the Careers section:


Freshman year in college I take one of those computer job aptitude tests. It coughed up three results: TV Producer, Novelist, and Roman Catholic Nun. Being a struggling Chemistry major at the time, I thought this one of the most asinine tests I had ever come across.

Well, I have since graduated with a BA in Communication Arts - Radio, TV, and Film, currently work as a Software seriously working on my first novel in my spare time, and a few years ago, converted to Roman Catholicism and became confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church. Where my spiritual adviser declared that I would make an incredible nun and that I should seriously consider it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting and Humbling Real-Talk Stories! June 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Phil Dhingra has hand-selected a set of amazing, real-life stories from a single thread on Metafilter where Jeremy Osborn (Jeremias) posed the question: "Can you point to a single experience in your life, as a child, which you can define as having contributed to the person you are today?". Although I was leery of this premise at first, imagining some kind of forum discussion, I was quickly drawn in by the thoughtful, honest, heart-breakingly human stories that emerged.

Life-Altering Experiences has that confessional quality of the website PostSecret or NPR's StoryCorps - little windows into people's worlds that are so vivid, but spare - leaving your imagination room to fill in a lot of the details. Like flipping through a photo album where each image tells a dynamic and unexpected story (not portraiture here, but captured moments of tension and release).

This is a quick read and each story leaves you with that satisfied feeling you get when you have a good conversation with someone - where you revealed something about yourself that makes you distinctly human - that moment when you see the person behind the personality.

The set of stories is well-curated by Dhingra, delicately edited for readability and all articles were run past the original authors of the posts. They're loosely categorized into groupings that highlight a small detail between the stories and the book looked great on my eReader. It is well worth the cost, although full disclosure: I received a free copy from the author to read and review - after the first few pages, could not put it down and read the whole thing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, engaging read! June 12, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Phil Dhingra's book makes me want to immediately log on to MetaFilter and answer Jeremy Osborn's question about "a single experience in your life, as a child...[that] contributed to the person you are today." Dhingra has done us all a favor by gathering the honest stories posted on MetaFilter over the course of several years. He has thoughtfully divided the stories into short, readable chapters on different topics, which draws out the themes across all sorts of intense human experiences and emotions.

From the first account, I was struck by the candor of these anonymous storytellers. It might be that anonymity is what garnered such bare snapshots into people's lives, but regardless, they are moving, and they also catch a specific moment of time on the Internet (as Osborn says in the foreword, a similar question might be deleted off MetaFilter now).

I was gifted the book on Amazon from the author to read and review it, but I had a hard time putting my iPad down. It's rare to have such a collection of people talking about life and death without some sort of agenda. I particularly liked the stories of how people discovered their passions (unsurprisingly for MetaFilter, reading, writing, music, computers) and their private pivotal experiences. Well done!
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More About the Author

Philip has written three books on personal change:

Dear Hannah: A Geek's Life of Self-Improvement (2014) is a cautionary tale about self-improvement consisting of 82 letters written over 16 years describing every self-help book, pop psych article, and personal invention Philip used--or abused--to change who he is.

Character & Chemistry: The Only Two Questions You Need in Dating (2012) - This two-step formula will help you simplify the art of picking the right partner.

Life-Altering Experiences: How One Question Tapped into the Soul of Metafilter (2009) - Philip selected over 50 stories from one of MetaFilter's most popular threads. The thread asked members the following question: "Can you point to a single experience in your life, as a child, which you can define as having contributed to the person you are today?"


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