Finding relatives on Facebook

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Column by Jim Clark

Sometime last year, I wrote a column about joining Facebook. I have suddenly realized that the social network is doing for me what I wanted it to do.
Granted, there's a lot of garbage on there. I would never post all the personal stuff that some people put up.
But, in those months since I joined, I have made contact with three long-lost cousins and tried for a fourth.
First came my cousin in Arizona, who is supposed to move to Atlanta. I last saw her in 1969, one year after I moved to Florida, when my family and I went back to New Jersey for a visit. We lost touch and I had no idea what her last name was.
Then I found her name on a school alumni site, and searched Facebook, and there she was.
More recently, I found a first cousin who is an engineer in Thailand. He was a little easier to find by searching for his name and his country. I also hadn't seen him since I was a kid.
Then, just last month, his sister, another first cousin, made contact because she saw me as a “friend” of his. Since then we've exchanged life stories and e-mails.
I count myself lucky. There are a lot of people who would love to contact long-lost relatives and haven't been able to do it.
I have to admit, I choose my “friends” carefully. I'm not going to give out too much information to people I frankly don't care about, especially if a third party initiated contact.
But if you haven't joined Facebook, and you're interested in trying to locate someone from the past, you might give it a shot. There is a very good search engine, and you have to be patient, especially if you don't know the person's exact name.
But you can search by town, by school, by name, and so forth.
There are also a lot of personalities and businesses who have turned to Facebook, making it more valuable to viewers. Yes, there are gossip sites that many of you might like … I don't go there.
But I keep coming back to family contacts, and that's the good side of the network.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at editor@smcitizen.com or at 352-854-3986.