Saturday, June 4, 2011

Remembering Via Social Networking

Before you know it, it will be Father’s Day. The third Sunday in June in many countries, the day is set aside to celebrate fatherhood.

There is, of course, the commercial aspect to the holiday, as people scurry to buy the Man Who Has Everything yet one trinket more.

However, on a brighter note—at least in the cloying world of social networking—there is a trend to add the intangible of honor to the day’s festivities.

I saw the idea spread this year on Mother’s Day. People started posting their old pictures on Facebook. Mostly, it was photos of friends’ childhood, remembering their parents in younger years. But then I saw it myself: people included grandparents and prior generations, if they had the pictures.

When we see a person, our individualistic culture makes it easy to presume that what we see is the full sum of his or her own being. But that’s not true. We are made up of the many people who have filled our lives from start to current point. And the most significant of these are often our relatives.

In 2009, I put together a photo album on Facebook of my dad’s old photos. One of the reasons I posted that was just to share who he was with my friends—the people who will never get to meet him. I should have known that my family members who are Facebook friends would also see the pictures—and then pass them along to all their relatives in a greater circle of extended family. It was fun hearing from family members I actually haven’t yet met, or only knew as babies from so many years ago.

Come to think of it, for those who include their relatives in their circle on social networking sites, there are probably other ways to share family memorabilia, too. The infrastructure is there, waiting to be exploited. Facebook already has several group sites organized around genealogy themes. I easily found one Gordon Family site. Poking around to find more examples, I ran across one for Relatives of Walter Laskowski; being that I have a distant cousin by that name, it immediately caught my eye, but unfortunately turned out to be for someone not related. But the idea is there for ways to work collectively on family research. Many hands do make light work—and in this case, would probably add some fun to the mix.

Utilize whatever internet resource is at your fingertips. These are tools for converting intangible memories into tangible formats. It’s all about passing it along, and honoring those we remember while we do so.

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