Facebook’s “You Know You’re From” Phenomena and Genealogy

Facebook's "you know you are from" phenomena

So, let me ask you. Have you been roped into the latest Facebook craze gone viral? The one where you are invited to join a group and stroll down memory lane about where you grew up?

Let me warn you, it is a total time suck. You get hooked and then four or five hours later you realize you never cooked that roast or cleaned that room or wrote that article.  Seriously.

While it is a lot of fun – especially for those of us who grew up in very small towns – realize that this does have value to genealogists and family historians. It achieves something so easily that many of us work years to do: to get people talking about what they remember.

I wonder if a family historian started a similar group such as “You know you’re a MacEntee if . . .” and invite family members to discuss common behavior traits.  I remember growing up that my mother – an Austin – swore that any “true Austin” detested raisins in food such as rice pudding or raisin bread.  If you liked those things, well then you weren’t really part of the family, and you were adopted.  I recall many a cousin crying over hearing that!

Perhaps this phenomena marks a maturation of the role Facebook and other social media can play in terms of family history? I’d love to hear your own experiences with this Facebook phenomena which CNN has reported on and seems to have gone “viral.”

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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11 thoughts on “Facebook’s “You Know You’re From” Phenomena and Genealogy

  1. The small area of Chicago that I grew up with started one of these pages a few years back and I “liked” it and really enjoyed reading posts by others. After awhile, I unliked it, I think because it was too time consuming. I just recently re “liked” the page because of a sad story dealing with a homeless boy of 22 that my eldest wen to grammar school with. Hoping that we will be able to help him out (still hoping). But we are working on things.
    I do enjoy reading some of the posts but I am keeping it in perspective that I do not have all day for the one page.
    As for family history, I think that if you grew up in a close nit family/area it is a great idea. Plus another avenue to share and get research assistance. For me, I do not think my family would partake, some were close, others were not. We have a few family pages and no one pays attention to them.

    I hope it works for someone else!

  2. Agree that it’s a time suck. I spent all Saturday morning yakking it up with my hometown group. One of the fellows referred to the addiction to reading, responding and posting as the crack cocaine of Facebook. It was a lot of fun, but after about four hours a whole new group of people came in and starting posting the same things as if it were the first time through. And for them, it was. At this point, I felt like I walked in on the middle of the movie, and hung around to watch the beginning up to the point where I walked it. I would have stayed a member of the group had there been a way to turn off the FB notifications. I got the email notices shut off immediately. But the group is still visible to me, so I can read what others have to say. So I’ll check in every once in a while.

    It’s the new rage, obviously. I heard a woman in the elevator today talking about her Beatrice group and that she was up half the night interacting with them. I imagine in smaller communities there’s a chance of running into someone you once knew. In my town of 250,000 I didn’t encounter anyone I knew during my brief stay.

    As you say, there’s some potential for genealogists, but for me, I already am spending entirely too much time social networking this summer.

  3. I have not joined my hometown page because the poor sap that started it couldn’t be bothered to spell the name of the town right, AND apparently never learned the correct form of “You’re” when he went to school. One misspell I can overlook, but come on, misspellings AND poor grammar? Not interested.

  4. @ Terri O’Connell: Terri, what area of Chicago? There are several FB groups, as well as “You know you’re from” sites regarding the Roseland area, on Chicago’s far south side where I grew up. That area was impacted by white flight in the 1970s, which also impacted the community’s churches, schools and organizations. Through FB, I could, if I wanted, reconnect to about half my grammar school class (who, pre-Internet, couldn’t locate me for a reunion when I moved 180 miles away). I did reconnect with 2 former neighbors, whose families comprised 8 of at least 25 kids on our block. It forces recollections, and binds together folks who didn’t know each other, but have their hometown in common. So although it is a time suck, it is a good thing… provided we can still get to the information and photos in years to come.

  5. I was wondering why the group/page for my little home town in Texas had been so active lately. For the most part I enjoy reading the posts, but it’s true – unless you are a speed-reader, it’s a black hole into which hours disappear without a trace.

  6. I grew up in a number of places (some more fun to remember than others), so until they make one for U-Haul babies, I’m out.

    It’s been great fun to see other people do it though, and since my husband and his family are from small towns, I’ve learned a lot about the recent history of the area he came from. I wrote a post a while back about the time he discovered the Facebook page for his hometown, and since then I’ve been able to share photos of his grandpa, who had a lumberyard there. We were amazed at how many people remembered it.

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