When I was a young boy I recall almost every Sunday we would get together with our cousins, either at their apartment or ours. The adults would talk about business, discuss current political events, or various family matters while us kids would play. Like most immigrant families our get togethers were centered around food and business. This went on for many years until we moved out to the suburbs, the kids grew up into their own lives, and our families found our get-togethers more infrequent. My parents were of that generation, and I think our society in general where Sunday was “Family-Day”, to spend time with each other and keep the family and Extended family relationships close.
So what happened over the years, is typical to many immigrant families; the kids became involved with our own lives, and we drifted apart from the cousins. Because we lived farther away from each other, natural separation occurred between the families. I mean, after all, as the kids (myself included) became busy with college, working, so simply engrossed in our own lives, the natural closeness our immigrant parents and grandparents had maintained since coming to America seemingly dissolved. Even the use of our family’s native language changed as we grew up. My dad and his family all spoke Arabic, yet few of us kids spoke Arabic once our parents and grandparents eventually passed away. The following generations tend to lose their cultural roots, including the important weekly get-togethers that cemented the bonds between our families. I am sure when you look at your own family, and recall hearing “since Grandpa and Grandma dies, the family does not get together as often…” Recall the Sunday dinners at Grandpa’s house, or the holiday dinners..??? When was the last time you and your cousins got together? It may be a gentle sad recognition that you and your extended family has grown apart.
Now this is not an critique of America, but I think more of what happens when the next levels of generations grow up more isolated then the previous. How do you re-capture those time past, linking with cousins and other members of the extended family in keeping your family’s culture alive and vibrant for your kids and grandkids?
Enter Facebook….as possibly a savior for the family and extended family re-kindling that closeness? So now imagine some way to stay connected to the family, re-discover each other even as our busy lives spiral onward? Being able to stay connected with what is going on in our busy lives, and have a way to communicate and possibly schedule family reunions using Facebook. Linking multiple generation together leveraging Facebook, while embracing the social technology that some say damage the family interactions we used to enjoy and take for granted. Now, the level of reunions that could occur because of the linking occurring on Facebook entirely depends on the family and their desire to reconnect. But I think within my own family, as more of us connect, it provides the opportunity to reunite on a level previously unavailable due to our geographic distances. I look forward to the day we schedule a reunion perhaps introducing our kids and grandkids to each other.
Start small with posting on each other walls, wishing happy birthday to a family member you previously had no clue of when their birthday was, engaging in a conversation about what is going on in your lives, post pictures and videos of kids birthdays or holiday events, and you will see the relationship start to re-energize.
I have read articles that Facebook and other social technologies actually damage the family by providing an isolating mechanism to avoid the physical closeness families used to enjoy. Social Technologies could hurt the family and extended family, if the end result is families link only thru postings on walls. If however the family and extended family leverage the Social Technologies to reintroduce those members to each other, and perhaps rekindle those relationships, then I say “Thank You Facebook”. I think this Holiday season could be a great way to rekindle those family relationships, so don’t wait, go to Facebook, connect with your family members you have not heard from, and hey pick up the phone, give ‘em a call, and before long, you will be reminiscing and laughing about old times when you were kids….