Our second and third cousins are not what they used to be
My name is Sarah, I am tall and I am a journalist.
On the weekend, I went to New Zealand for a family reunion with almost a hundred relatives I have never met before. There I met my third-cousin Sarah, who is also really tall, and is also a journalist.
Let’s put aside the fact that this person had basically stolen my personality, and had made my little introduction speech a whole lot less impressive: “Oh, you’re a journalist? Yeah whatever I just met the other Sarah”.
Let’s also put aside the fact that apparently my family is descendent from Irish gypsies, a la “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”.
Because what struck me most about the whole event was the fact that despite my obvious connection – and scary similarities - to a lot of these people, I am probably never going to see them again.
It was really nice to meet these strangers who were so excited to talk to me and we’re so ready to like me and be interested in my life, just based on the fact we share the same great-grandparents.
And it was really cool to meet these interesting people and notice traits in them that I could see so obviously in my brother or my mum or my uncle.
I would like to say I’m going to make an effort to keep in contact with my third-cousin who actually lives in Sydney too and is a 30 minute drive away. I’d also like to say that I’m going to write to my mum’s aunt who lives in Wellington.
But the reality is I won’t.
I’m going to spend more time working on relationships with my colleagues and people in the journalism industry that might help further my career.
I’m going to spend more time cultivating my Twitter followers.
And, to be honest, I’ll probably spend more time liking friends’ photos on Facebook than I will finding out about how my relatives lives are going.
Does that make me a bad person? Is there a retweet button where my heart should be?
Or has our extended family become less important than it used to be?
Listening to my mum talk to people at the reunion, they were sharing stories about the weekly dinners all the cousins and second-cousins used to have.
But now they haven’t seen each other in more than 20 years.
Have we all become a little bit more selfish, and stopped caring about keeping tabs with our family?
Or is it just a natural response to our social networks becoming increasingly less about family, and more about our careers, our friends, and our Twitter followers?
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