Saturday, April 04, 2009

Six Degrees of Separation

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone
on the planet can be connected to any other person
on the planet through a chain of six people.

A couple of months ago, I started my online family tree on When I started it, I was just having a little bit of fun tracing my roots while uploading pictures and creating profiles of my family members. As it were, I didn’t even know the names of my ancestors beyond my grandparents on both sides. So, my focus was simply to create a simple tree consisting of my immediate family members for my own reference.

Then I invited my 2 brothers to the tree, and they in turn invited some cousins, and these cousins invited many more and then all hell broke loose. People started signing up, adding more and more people, and I found out names, faces and relations I never knew existed!

Too bad that some of the newcomers didn’t even bother to check if the people they are adding already have their profiles created, and so we had lots of duplicate profiles being created.

Worse, they are some who experimented with the tree in their efforts to learn how to get around, and ended up adding multiple entries of the same person in different names and nicknames, and deleting crucial information already entered by others.

I was shocked to learn that someone I know has 8 kids instead of the 4 kids that I’m familiar with. The first thought that came to mind was, “Eh, dia kawin lagi satu ke?”.

But no, it was just another case of duplicate entries which nobody bothered to rectify.

What a mess!!

Suffice to say, I was a bit miffed at first. I couldn’t help feeling a bit protective over what I initially considered was my family tree. But then I had to remind myself that the tree isn’t mine alone. These people share the same ancestry, and when they sign up the tree is theirs too.

So I learned to let go, and just watched from a distance.

And now, with profiles from many other trees created by other people being merged with it, this tree ain’t mine no more, no sir! It has taken a life of its own, with new people cropping up on the news-feed everyday, most of whom I have never heard of, and new pictures being added daily.

The tree, in fact is no longer a tree. It is a forest with lots of old and new trees being merged daily.

I would’ve been satisfied to know my direct lineage without bothering with all the relatives connected by marriage and what-nots. But what I got out of it is totally unexpected. I found links to people I never thought I was linked to! Heck, I even found a link to fellow blogger Kak Puteri of Kata Kama!

(Just to clarify, Kak Puteri, if you are reading this- I’m not actually related to you. But there is a link between us, connected perhaps by about three hundred marriages and is possibly 18 times removed! Even the saying ‘bau-bau bacang’ would be stretching it too far)

Anyway, I saw quite a number of people whose name I recognized but whom I never thought are connected to me in any way. I cannot claim to be these people’s relatives or anything, but it is fun to know that there is a link between us, however remote.

So, even if I am now not actively updating my tree and my information, I am having a blast just looking at how the tree had grown. I keep scanning all the forests daily just to see who else I’m linked to. For all I know, I may even be linked to Brad Pitt!

Fat chance, you say?


Maybe not :-)

After all, like the Geni tag says, everyone’s related.


Pak Zawi said...

Put in their emails and the system will recognize the person as the same person and ask you to merge them. There will definitely be multiple entries as others maybe related to the same person via marriage.
Carry on doing it, you can still maintain your side of the tree. Who knows we may be even related?

Manal said...

Eh kita kan saudara islam?

Thats prolly not as horrenduous and cumbersome as it would be if ever u r connected to some indian roots.

But anyway, i dont think i'd do that. Ours are already a VERY interesting one.

So sape la yea anak sedara cousin tiri mak sedara belah tok sedara sepupu belah cucu sedara belah 3 pupu belah nenek u yea?

Typhoon Sue said...

pak zawi:
multiple entries due to merger of trees are ok. we can always merge it happily. What's annoying is the people who create multiple entries in the same branch. One profile for along, another for A Bin C which is the full name of Along and another profile for ABCDE which is the 'nama glamour' for that along. Sakit ati betul. Nak delete pun malas.

buat aje la manal. syok taw tengok how far it goes. in your case, u may even be related to King Tut! haha

Kama said...

A very pleasant surprise indeed, Sue. Am thrilled, even if bau-bau bacang!

typhoon sue said...

kak puteri:
yup. cool, kan?