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It Started with a Snickers Bar…. How Social Media Keeps Me and My BFF Connected

First off… this is NOT my typical post. Rather, it’s in honor of my best friend and in celebration of her birthday. So, Happy Birthday, Rosebud. I love you!

The Wiz - High School (1989) I'm going to be in BIG trouble for posting this!

If you ever saw the two of us, you would immediately notice the contrast. She’s 5’11” and I’m 5’1″. She wears size 11 shoes that are close to the ground (or no shoes at all). I wear size 6 shoes that are sky high. She loves old (like grave stones & Geneaology {{{ shiver}}} ). I love new (the shinier and newer, the better). She listens and listens and listens. I talk and talk and talk. She lives in Reality. I live in La La Land.

She’ll tell you her first introduction to me was when I voraciously took a HUGE bite out of the Snickers bar she so graciously offered to me way back when we were 16. Clearly, she hasn’t gotten over it. In my defense,  let me just say this: I don’t like chocolate. So, I don’t know how much credibility you can put into her claim. But despite all of our differences, we have a match made in heaven. And it’s been that way for well over 20 years.

What’s our common ground? We can shop at Nordstrom’s annual shoe sale for odd sizes together… and — you got it — social media.

Our interests in social media may be for different reasons, but that’s the beauty of such technology… it doesn’t matter what brings you there, but once you’re there and participating, you have a way of being connected. Case in point: She uses social networking to connect with dead people. I use social networking to connect with live people. Eh, to each her own.

But I will say this… our participation on Facebook and Twitter keeps us up-to-date and in tune with what is going on in each others’ lives more than ever before. It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day and stay out of sight out of mind. With social media, not so much. I see my BFF’s status and Twitter updates daily. And her updates give me insight into her daily life that neither e-mail nor a phone call would have ever provided. I know there are some people who feel this might be a little impersonal. I don’t feel that way. If nothing else, I feel more involved.

I suppose, since I know her so well, you could say that I am able to put an emotional context around her updates as well. This is true. I don’t need to rely on Emoticon analytics to know when she is having a good or bad day. And I can most certainly tell when she needs me to pick up the phone and call her. Or drive the four hours to be with her. And that’s just it: Social media is not a replacement to the phone calls, e-mails or in-person communication she and I have. It is an extension of an already existing relationship. Which, is how it should be in both personal and business.

I absolutely love hearing stories of how people have used social media to establish / maintain relationships — both near and far, personal and professional. I can’t count the times people have told me how they’ve joined Facebook only to find people they haven’t heard from since high school or from earlier stages in their lives. And the more you connect, the more you will see your social graph extend and grow, so that you can gain even more connections. Those possibilities are exciting to me and makes me feel like social media is the Snickers bar to establishing those connections.

So, back to my BFF and her birthday. As my birthday gift to her, I’m listing out some geneaology resources that I found online. If your name is Rosebud, or if you also have a fondness for tracing your roots… please enjoy. Otherwise, feel free to exit here by going to Nordstrom’s web site. It’s what I did.

1. MyHeritage

MyHeritage got off to a rousing start in 2005 due to a buzz over its facial-recognition tool that compares an uploaded photograph of an individual with photos of celebrities. Yet the robust site offers muh more than just gimmicks, including family tree building, family calendars, and Smart Matching technology (thanks to their merger with Pearl Street Software/, which allows the service to compare family trees for overlap.

2.’s primary focus is connecting family, allowing you to easily create a family tree and invite other family members to join you. Each individual in the tree has a profile; family members can work together to build profiles for common ancestors. Other features include a Family Calender, an editable Family Timeline and a Family News feature which highlights new additions and upcoming events from sites within a user’s Family Group. In coming months they also plan to introduce a family-tree widget that can be embedded into other Web sites (such as your own personal family page).

3. Amiglia

Family trees and photo albums combine in this fun genealogy 2.0 site – think Flickr meets Facebook. The site is designed around families, so there is also a family calendar, and even some fun games for the little ones. You can even link your photo album to others in your family network so everyone automatically gets your newest photos when you upload them – and you get theirs. The family tree is also a nice touch, although this site is more geared toward connecting living family members than researching your family history. Due to the high cost of hosting online photos and videos, Amiglia is a subscription-based site.

4. WeRelate

This free, public service genealogy Wiki (Wikipedia is type of Wiki) allows you to create a profile to tell others about your research interests, to receive and respond to emails from other users without publishing your email address, to create online family trees and personal research pages, and to collaborate with other users. The service is completely free, thanks to the Foundation for Online Genealogy, Inc. and the Allen County Public Library, and very easy to use. But if you’re looking for a private family Web site option, WeRelate isn’t the place for you.

5. Family Link

Paul Allen left in 2002 to try a new approach to online genealogy – and is seeing it grow at World Vital Records. The free online family tree component of this service, known as FamilyLink, focuses on connecting genealogy researchers with other genealogy researchers. You can browse by city or country to view uploaded photos of that city and the names of FamilyLink registered genealogists who live there or have experience doing research there. If they are online you can IM them or Skype them. If they are offline, you can send them a message. You can also give them permission to view your uploaded family tree so they can offer help and suggestions. How cool is that?

6. MyFamily 2.0

MyFamily was one of the first online family genealogy communities on the Web, launching in 1998. The new MyFamily 2.0 version allow families to share photos, news and events for free. You can upload photos and then use them to create fun things like photo books, family photo calendars, and narrated slide shows. Family members can use a special toll-free phone

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