Finally, a Facebook App I actually Like

Today I checked my App and Game requests on Facebook, and found that I have a closet full of HOT clothes. I’ve also been accepted into the school of wizardry, appointed starting pitcher, and put on the library staff. Several acquaintances have admitted to stalking me (isn’t being “friends” on Facebook already stalking?), I’ve been passed an Argentine mate, and people want me on their birthday calendars in various different languages, each of which (annoyingly) has its very own app. Smiles, hugs, diamonds, zombies, time machines, and empires are all mine for the taking. I guess life is full of opportunities.

And I’m kind of a wet blanket to persistently ignore all these virtual delights. I pretty much only use boring, utilitarian Facebook apps like the ones that allow me to comment on news sites. Or the one that syndicates this blog to my wall to remind you all to read it.

This week, though, I read about “relative finder,” an app that automatically checks your genealogy to find out to whom you’re related. As in, U.S. Presidents, famous authors and scientists, or Mayflower passengers. Or even your friends on Facebook.

Maybe this sounds like yet another mindless vanity app, like the ones that tell you which Disney princess or Jane Austen character you most closely resemble. But I think it’s actually a fascinating and meaningful way to connect with your roots.

So, I may be a bit of a genealogy nerd. This dates back to the time I had to collect all the birth and marriage certificates back to Tony’s great-great grandparents so he could get Italian citizenship. Fortunately, tasks like this are not as difficult as they once were. For the past several years, my church has been working on an online database that contains genealogy for hundreds of millions of people. Anyone can create an account to research vital records for family, often going back to the Renaissance or earlier. For me, it was fascinating to read my ancestors’ names, find the places they were born on a map, and picture what the world was like when they were alive.

Anyway,”relative finder” was created by some computer science students at my alma mater, Brigham Young University. It taps into the L.D.S. Church’s genealogy database to tell you which famous people are related to you.

I tried it out, and these are some of the people connected to my family tree:

  • John Adams, who happens to be my mother’s favorite Founding Father (hey, doesn’t everybody have a favorite Founding Father?) is my 6th cousin, 7 times removed.
  • George W. Bush is my 10th cousin, once removed (hey, every family has a black sheep).
  • Myles Standish of the Mayflower is my 11th Great Grandfather.
  • Walt Disney, Emily Dickenson, Mark Twain and the Wright brothers are all my distant cousins several times removed.
  • In Mormondom, I’m related to several past prophets (including Joseph Smith), and also football star Steve Young.
  • And I’m 9th cousin to both Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. I hope this doesn’t cause me paralysis at the voting booth.

Really, when you add up all this famousness, I think I’m almost famous myself. The really cool thing is that you can then click to see a family tree that shows you exactly how you’re linked, all the way back to the common ancestor you share.

My only disappointment was the part of the app that told me how I was related to my Facebook friends (or at least the handful who are using this esoteric app). Drumroll please . . . I am 13th cousin to some Elder from my mission, to whom I don’t recall ever speaking. So far, neither of us has called the other up to rejoice in our being 13th cousins and plan the rest of our lives together.

So how about you check it out. Am I related to you?

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One thought on “Finally, a Facebook App I actually Like

  • November 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm
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    And see, this is one of those things I’m distrustful about. I don’t want some app to be able to track back my ancestry and give the results to people. But Mormonism is quite into genealogy, isn’t it?

    I’ll tell you – I’m Dutch-American. This means I’m mega-tall, blonde, cheaper-than-dirt, and gruff/short in my responses, in person. We all are – it’s just that gene we carry. My ancestors have been traced back to when Napoleon required people to have last names, and I know which town in the Netherlands my people came from. They came to America after some initial trouble – my people were slated to be on the boat that was supposed to sail along with the Mayflower… but was deemed un-seaworthy last minute. They had to come on a subsequent trip via another boat.

    No need for an app! 😀

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