The internet is mostly people repeating something they found on the internet.
It’s a hall of mirrors for almost any topic. In genealogy, we all experience this with family trees on the big genealogy sites. Names and dates connected together with no evidence of how that connection was made.
It’s maddening. And it’s bleeding into our face-to-face interactions too. (What I think of as “regular” or “normal” life, because, yes, I am that old.)
Over the summer on a tour of a historical site, the guide we had clearly didn’t know the topic. Everything he said was something I had read on Wikipedia or Atlas Obscura (excellent website to find unique places to explore, by the way). At each stop he repeated the same information from the last stop. It was the most shallow and meaningless history tour I’ve ever been on.
It’s become a family joke where we repeat the lines this guide said.
Do I feel good about myself making fun of someone who clearly wasn’t prepared for his job? No. But I also can’t understand how someone doesn’t realize we all have access to the same information. And genealogy has become much the same way.
The majority of family history now, if it has any sources at all, is only records found online. Of course I am judging here. Again. I have no idea what people have besides what is online in those public family trees. I imagine that they, like me, have stacks of documents in their home that only they know about.
And as I sit amongst my stacks of documents as I type this, it makes me wonder, what is all this family history for, anyway?
My answer on this has evolved over the years. And I’ll share more about what I am thinking and my plans going forward next week.
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