Today I want to talk a little more about why I think anyone with an interest in their ancestry should dive right in and see what they can find. I started my blog series talking about my desire to prove I’m Canadian, but I’ve since developed a few more thoughts on the subject.
Let’s start with this commercial from Ancestry.com that has been on TV a lot recently:
There’s only one word to describe that: Cheeseball.
It bothers me both as a PR person and as someone with an anthropology background. I know that sounds a little odd, but stay with me.
From a PR standpoint, I don’t think that ad does anything to highlight how fun making connections can be. It’s so somber. In my experience, searching has been anything but somber.
In my opinion, Ancestry.com’s PR engine works so much better when it focuses on timely stories. For instance, just as Chris Hadfield was returning to Earth from the International Space Station, Ancestry.ca revealed a link between him and Star Trek villain Benedict Cumberbatch. It turns out the two are 6th cousins.
It was a timely piece of information that capitalized on Hadfield’s popularly and the release of the new Star Trek movie. Brilliant! I know it inspired me to go back to my search. I doubt I was the only one.
From an anthropological standpoint, the ad misses the mark on a more human level. Ever since humanity first started scratching images on cave walls, we have tried to leave our mark – literally and figuratively. It’s part of the human condition to say, “I was here. I did this. Remember me.” Searching for our ancestors honours this need.
As I have discovered information about my ancestors, I have often wished that my grandparents, who have all passed on, could have known the things I know now. They would have been so thrilled to learn everything I have learned.
Sometimes I think of all the generations of family between myself and the ancestors I have discovered and I’m sad that they likely had no idea what our early ancestors accomplished. For generations, my family likely had no idea what people like Captain Betts accomplished and I feel bad for them since it’s such wonderful information. I don’t want to get as somber as the ad, but the fact is I love information and I love sharing it and I don’t want anyone to miss out.
The great thing is, though, going forward, my future children and my future nieces, nephews and cousins will know and maybe they will find inspiration in what I’ve found. Maybe some of them will even enjoy listening to me prattle on about what I’ve found!
There’s my esoteric blog for this series. Next time, I’ll get back to my findings about what happened when the Betts and the Wryghts met.