I live in Portland, and we pretty much invented passive-aggressive digital communication.
Posted on August 9th, 2012
When Pea was a newborn, I had a surprising amount of free time. (She was a preemie and slept a lot. I didn’t breastfeed. Go ahead and judge me.) I spent that time putting my family tree online. It kind of fit with the whole family motif.
A couple of years later, the site went crazy. Everybody’s trees were merged. I ended up with a lot of profiles that I hadn’t created because they were orphaned (so to speak).
It’s a neat site. It’s kind of cool to know how I’m related to other people I’ve met online (Hi, Dinei! Hi, _blur!) and various other people. But my family tree was well documented before I got involved and after I figured out a few new wrinkles, I was content to let it ride. I let my paid membership lapse.
But other people seem to just be getting into it. And since I have all these profiles, I get a shitstorm of email and messages on this website about people I don’t know. It’s enough that I don’t have enough time in the day to answer them all. I put a note on my profile that says, “Figure out how we’re related before you contact me” and still they write with random, “Do you know Shirley in Texarkana just died?” and I just have no clue.
When I was out today, I got an email from a woman that read:
How sad I am that you are not interested in replying to my e-mail about your connection to the Me– / Po– family tree.
There is so much information I have & hopefully you might have some for me .
And I’m thinking, look, lady. Not only do I not know these surnames, but don’t try to fucking guilt me on the internet.
I don’t know who you are or what you are referring to.
(I was on my iPhone.)
She wrote back something about some people I have never heard of in Gloucestershire. You know what I think of when I read Gloucestershire? Richard III. And cheese. (I apologize to any Gloucestershire residents who may be reading this for my stereotypical American bigotry.)
I don’t know about relatives in Gloucestershire. Most of my ancestors immigrated to the Americas before 1640.
I have a huge family tree with many collateral relatives. There are also a lot of individuals I’m not related to in the tree, via marriage and sometimes not even then. Also, when people drop out of [this site], their profiles are orphaned. Some of them devolved onto me. If you’ll look, you’d see I have over 100,000 profiles. I’m not even sure how I ended up with them all.
If you can tell me how we’re connected, great. If you want to manage those profiles that you’re closely related to, great. There’s a place to click to request management. I’m happy to share.
But it’s really bad form to send passive-aggressive “How sad I am that you are not interested in replying to my e-mail” emails. Trust me, I live in Portland, and we pretty much invented passive-aggressive digital communication.