Tuesday, 17 January 2012

How Facebook Found My Family

I apologise if I ever doubted your intentions. I'm sorry for spending more time with a new friend (Twitter) and less with your familiar screen.

Because Facebook, you can change lives.

It all began with a harmless case of Facebook stalking, in my case trying to find a picture on my cousin's profile. When I couldn't find her profile I thought I'd been dealt the ultimate Facebook insult - unfriending. And if it could be any worse, unfriended by my own family member!

In a bit of a mood (I mean, why would my teenage cousin unfriend me? I'm cool! Right?!) I searched for her surname and to my relief there she was - and still my friend too. 

But something much more intriguing came out of that search.

Two other people, based in Auckland, around my age with the same surname.


Let's take a step back. 

From about the age of 7 I knew I had an uncle who for whatever reason left the family at 18 and has never spoken to his parents and brother and sisters (one of which is my mum) since.

This always seemed strange to me since my family are pretty normal (a relative term of course) & nice, but everyone has their own point of view and you can never really tell what is going through a person's mind.

As a child I imagined what this mysterious uncle was like - was he important, rich maybe, or famous? But most of all I wondered if I had any other cousins, relatives my own age who'd undoubtedly be cool & we'd be best friends!


I guess this is one of those occasions when my impulsiveness was a good trait. I think if I'd taken a step back and thought about what I was doing I might not have acted at all.

I clicked on the young man's profile - he looked so much like other members of my family - and saw he had a sister.

Not to sound sexist, but when it comes to family matters boys can be a little useless so I figured the sister was my best bet.

So a brief email later - "Hi, you don't know me, but I think we might be related. Is your dad so-and-so? I think he's my long lost uncle" - and there was nothing to do but wait.

The next morning, there in my inbox, was a Facebook notification saying I had a new message.

Not only was this young lady my older cousin, but she never knew her father had any siblings (and therefore had no knowledge of any cousins) and to say she was thrilled was an understatement. 

From there things got crazy.

Let's just say I hadn't really thought this through, so when it turned out that I had in fact tracked down missing family members I started to go into panic mode!

"Now I have to tell my parents I found missing family members! What are they going to think? Will they be happy/sad/angry/confused? Will I be disowned?"

Thankfully, and I really should have know better, everyone was pleasantly surprised.

Soon, there were family meetings and greetings taking around Auckland and the new family was welcomed into the old!

Look at me, I think I should become a private investigator. Bringing people together from half way around the world.

I can't wait until April when I get to meet them myself! 

I wonder how many people out there have reunited (or in our case united) through social media?

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