I'm gonna start by saying that in general, I'm not a great proponent of change, I have found that advances aren't always all they are cracked up to be, and sometimes changing things too fast bites one in the ass. Windows Vista anyone? Modern buildings seem to lack the character and charm of the old classics, the Gothic Cathedrals of Europe come to mind compared to the steel buildings that pass as churches in today's "build 'em faster and cheaper" society. That's not to say that all technological advances are bad, Digital Photography for one thing. In the film days, you took your pictures and then developed them, either yourself, or by paying someone else to do it, sure eventually it became about a 1 hour wait. The wait wasn't such a bad thing but the wasted frames, when you snapped a picture you had to be sure that everything was in place and ready and right or that was a wasted frame. AND you had to pay to have it developed before you knew it was a wasted frame. Invariably you would run out of film at a critical moment, and unless you had a loaded camera on stand-by, you were screwed until you reloaded or even worse went and got more film. With digital, it's better than the old Polaroid instant camera, just snap your picture, and look at the viewer. Was it what you wanted? No? Well, snap a few more and try something a little different each time. Memory is cheap and as many pictures as I take in a day, I have never run out of memory at a critical moment, ( Battery yes! Memory no...) So the advance is better.
A few years back, early in my internet experience, I joined a website called "6 Degrees" based on the old game "6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon". Who remembers that game? It was also known as "Kevin Bacon is the Center of the Universe". The object was to connect Kevin Bacon to another person, ( usually famous, preferably an actor) by pairing him with a known associate, and then pairing that associate with another etc. and getting to the specified person in less than 6 pairings. The goal of the website was to connect people, by connecting their friends. It was an early shot at the social networking idea. I was never too impressed with it, and I think I visited it a few days a week for a couple months and finally lost interest.
Social Networking has advanced greatly since then, and while I was never much for MySpace, and I resisted Facebook for a long time, I finally broke down about 6 weeks ago and joined. One of the reasons that I have resisted is because I know A LOT of assholes, and I don't want them to find me. I don't care if I ever hear from loads of people from my past. But on the positive side, there is a large part of my family that I want to be able to keep up with, and know what's going on with them. (I'm not gonna follow Twitter though, as far as I'm concerned, Twitter is for twits!) Of course I don't need to know everything, but it's interesting to see old family pictures and to chat with the cousins who live so far away and to see how they are doing. We can trade jokes and pictures and share in the special family bond that we have built through years of teasing and torture. ;-)
Family is a funny thing, because as we all know most family trees have hidden places that we either don't talk about, don't know about, or know about but have no way of getting a better look. This is a new benefit of technology. In some cases it can connect an adopted child with their birth family, if the birth family is interested. In other cases it can help someone find a part of their family that they knew was out there, but never knew how to reach. That is what has happened to me. Back in May, I wrote about my mothers, and how I grew up with a step-mom, but I reconnected with my Bio-mom in my late teens. Since I didn't grow up with my bio-mom in my life, I also didn't grow up with her side of my family in my life. I knew that I had at least one aunt, and 2 uncles as well as grandparents connected to my mother. But from the age of 3, I had no contact, until by chance, I met my maternal Grandmother in a parking lot of a local shopping center when I was 12 or 13. I spent and afternoon with her shortly afterward, but then never really heard from her again. The summer that I was 18 I went looking for my bio-mom, by looking for an aunt that I knew was still in the area. ( How did I know? Because my father would tell me from time to time that he had run into her at some beer tent or carnival) I found my aunt, she gave me the telephone number for my mother and I called her. She was surprised and happy. I went to visit her, she came to my graduation, and I met one of my uncles, his wife and daughter. That was 22 years ago. No calls or other contact with the uncle since. Didn't even get to go to my grandmother's funeral, because I didn't know that she had died until after the funeral was over. ( My Bio-mom isn't the greatest with directions, so she couldn't find my house when she was here for the funeral.)
Enter Facebook. When you make "friends" you can look through their friends list and see if there is anyone you would like to add to your list. Mutual friends are a great way to meet new and interesting people, not to mention make contacts in business. Sometimes though, you stumble upon a name that seems like it should be someone you know, but don't. Especially if you know that there is family around that you don't know. That happened to me. I was looking through a friend's friend list, and I spotted a name that I wondered if I was related to. So I looked at what info was available, and it sure seemed like I should be related, so I took a chance and sent her a note. Sure enough not only was she my cousin, but even better she was looking for me! And by finding me, she also found my mother ( her aunt) and has connected me with her brother also. So now I have two new relatives to learn about! And the funniest part is that one of my newly found cousins lives less than ten minutes away from me! The other one lives more like 2000 miles away, but at least I know that he exists now... LOL I'm guessing that eventually I will get to learn about a few more cousins, and possibly some family history.
Too bad I didn't find out that I was related to philanthropic multi-millionaires, but I'm happy just to make my family a little bigger, and my tree a little more complete.