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How to Keep Family Relationships Intact with Geni

How to Keep Family Relationships Intact with Geni
Geni Family Tree view

    There was a time when it was easy to keep up with your family – they lived down the road, on the block or nearby in the city.

    That time passed decades ago, with technological advances in transport and communication, and now families can be strewn across the country, or even the world.

    But those same advances in technology and communication that keep families apart can also relieve the relationship deterioration that geographical separation can cause. One of those advances is the genealogy web application Geni.

    My father and I had a discussion about our family history and recently decided to collaborate online using this application. I didn’t realize it was anything more than a genealogy service when we signed up.

    Geni is a family tree app that allows you to record data about your living relatives and your ancestors going back generations, but also part social network that can keep family members in touch and appraised of each others’ news.

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    Profiles

    Geni Profile view

      Profiles form most of Geni’s social network capabilities. Much like other networks such as Facebook, you can find typical profile data about the person you’re looking at, though the data tends to be more accurate and personal. Here you can see an individual’s birthdate, location, place of birth, immediate family and email address, as well as statistics such as relatives, in-laws, ancestors and descendants.

      The sidebar also contains historical data, such as an individual’s work and education history, and there’s a section for adding personal trivia—want to let everyone know what your favorite movies, hobbies and cuisines are? No? Well, there’s a place to specify this anyway.

      There’s also a thumbnail array showing the profiles of your immediate family, with tabs for ancestors or descendants—useful for immediately determining which part of the family the person is in, in case they are too distant for you to remember (either that or you’re just a bad relative!).

      Of course, like every social network, there’s the guestbook, which is just like Facebook’s wall.

      Family News

      genifamilynewsview.jpg

        When you log-in to Geni the first thing you’ll see is the Family News page. Here, you’ll be able to see both news posted by family members and recent changes or additions to the tree, as well as individual profile modifications or image uploads. It’s the hub of recent activity both in your tree and your family’s lives, if they update diligently.

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        You can select who you receive news from, so if your Geni tree has grown as large as mine, you won’t need to know about the latest tea party your wife’s great-aunt’s-stepchild’s-sister-in-law is holding.

        This page is a lifesaver, coupled with the next feature which has done my poor memory a whole lot of service.

        Event Reminders

        I didn’t know when my brother-in-law’s birthday was or which day my uncle and aunt celebrate their anniversary until I started using Geni. Now, I can look like I actually do care. That’s not how it sounds; I usually do, but I forget these things like any good male does. Geni reminds me of the things I should have remembered on my own so I can send off an email or make a phone call to the person in question.

        I’m not sure yet whether Geni sends reminders for death anniversaries. For the sake of good taste, I hope not.

        Calendar

        genicalendarview.jpg

          The calendar allows you to peruse all the events for the next year. If you’re either incredibly slack or have a really unhealthy relationship with productivity hacks, you can head to your email program and schedule messages to go out for each event, but you better not mess up the scheduling!

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          This calendar not only tells you when wedding anniversaries occur, but also which substance or valuable metal represents that anniversary. For instance, later this year I’m having a cotton anniversary. Nobody told me about this before.

          The calendar has a checkbox for displaying the events of the deceased. Ever wanted to head down to the cemetery and wish your great-grandparents a happy 74th anniversary? How about singing happy birthday to Uncle Ted who met his fate at the aquarium that couldn’t afford to put a lid on the shark tank? This feature is a little creepy to me, but I can see how it might be of interest to some.

          Inbox

          I know there’s email, but when you check it each morning, I might send off an email to see how Relative X is going is probably not one of your first thoughts. This feature is useful simply because while you’re inside the Geni application, your focus is on family members and you’re more likely to send that message off.

          The recipient of your message will be notified by email so if they haven’t logged in for a year, they’ll still know about it. Whether they read it or not is another story, but at least you can say you tried at the next reunion.

          From a purely technical point of view, this kind of feature is a bit redundant, considering the email address of each member is on their profile page. But given the common condition known as email blindness and the context of this app, it’s bound to help you keep family relationships intact at least a little bit more.

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          Privacy

          Both the family tree and the social network are kept private amongst members of the family, though there is an option to make the family tree and some social network information public.

          For me, this defeats the purpose of using the application and offers some privacy concerns. For instance, can you opt-out of the public tree? And if individuals can opt-out, doesn’t this make the public family tree incredibly inaccurate for those doing casual online research? I’m sure there will be interested individuals, and the option will be there for them.

          Geni offers features I like and some that I don’t like so much or find particularly relevant, given the purposes I use this service for. But no matter what you’re looking for in the world of collaborative genealogy or family relationship maintenance, Geni can help.

          If your relatives live up the road, here’s a tip: face-to-face communication works a lot better.

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          Joel Falconer

          Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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          Last Updated on September 12, 2019

          12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

          12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

          Even the most charismatic people you know, whether in person or celebrities of some sort, experience days where they feel lost in life and isolated from everyone else.

          While it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this feeling, the question still remains:

          What should we do when we feel lost and lonely?

          Here are 12 things to remember:

          1. Recognize That It’s Okay!

          The truth is, there are times you need to be alone. If you’ve always been accustomed to being in contact with people, this may prove difficult.

          However, learning how to be alone and comfortable in your own skin will give you confidence and a sense of self reliance.

          We cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to become self reliant when we look for constant companionship.

          Learn how to embrace your me time: What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

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          2. Use Your Lost and Loneliness as a Self-Directing Guide

          You’ve most likely heard the expression: “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”

          Loneliness also serves as a life signal to indicate you’re in search of something. It’s when we’re in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching.

          Remember, there is more to life than what you’re feeling.

          3. Realize Loneliness Helps You Face the Truth

          Being in the constant company of others, although comforting sometimes, can often serve as a distraction when we need to face the reality of a situation.

          Solitude cuts straight to the chase and forces you to deal with the problem at hand. See it as a blessing that can serve as a catalyst to set things right!

          4. Be Aware That You Have More Control Than You Think

          Typically, when we see ourselves as being lost or lonely, it gives us an excuse to view everything we come in contact with in a negative light. It lends itself to putting ourselves in the victim mode, when the truth of the matter is that you choose your attitude in every situation.

          No one can force a feeling upon you! It is YOU who has the ultimate say as to how you choose to react.

          5. Embrace the Freedom That the Feeling of Being Alone Can Offer

          Instead of wallowing in self pity, which many are prone to do because of loneliness, try looking at your circumstance as a new-found freedom.

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          Most people are in constant need of approval of their viewpoints. Try enjoying the fact that  you don’t need everyone you care about to support your decisions.

          6. Acknowledge the Person You Are Now

          Perhaps you feel a sense of loneliness and confusion because your life circumstances have taken you away from the persona that others know to be you.

          Perhaps the new you differs radically from the old. Realize that life is about change and how we react to that change. It’s okay that you’re not who you used to be.

          Take a look at this article and learn to accept your imperfect self: Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable

          7. Keep Striving to Do Your Best

          Often those who are feeling isolated and unto themselves will develop a defeatist attitude. They’ll do substandard work because their self esteem is low and they don’t care.

          Never let this feeling take away your sense of worth! Do your best always and when you come through this dark time, others will admire how you stayed determined in spite of the obstacles you had to overcome.

          And to live your best life, you must do this ONE thing: step out of your comfort zone.

          8. Don’t Forget That Time Is Precious

          When we’re lost in a sea of loneliness and depression, it’s all too easy to reflect on regrets of past life events. This does nothing but feed negativity and perpetuate the situation.

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          Instead of falling prey to this common pitfall, put one foot in front of the other and acknowledge every positive step you take. By doing this, you can celebrate the struggles you overcome at the end of the day.

          9. Remember, Things Happen for a Reason

          Every circumstance we encounter in our life is designed to teach us and that lesson is in turn passed on to others.

          Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to figure out the lesson to be learned, while other times, we simply need to have faith that if the lesson wasn’t meant directly for us to learn from, how we handled it was observed by someone who needed to learn.

          Your solitude and feeling of lost, in this instance, although painful possibly, may be teaching someone else.

          10. Journal During This Time

          Record your thoughts when you’re at the height of loneliness and feeling lost. You’ll be amazed when you reflect back at how you viewed things at the time and how far you’ve come later.

          This time (if recorded) can give you a keen insight into who you are and what makes you feel the way you feel.

          11. Remember You Aren’t the First to Feel This Way

          It’s quite common to feel as if we’re alone and no one else has ever felt this way before. We think this because at the time of our distress, we’re silently observing others around us who are seemingly fine in every way.

          The truth is, we can’t possibly know the struggles of those around us unless they elect to share them. We ALL have known this pain!

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          Try confiding in someone you trust and ask them how they deal with these feelings when they experienced it. You may be surprised at what you learn.

          12. Ask for Help If the Problem Persists

          The feeling of being lost and lonely is common to everyone, but typically it will last for a relatively short period of time.

          Most people will confess to, at one time or another, being in a “funk.” But if the problem persists longer than you feel it should, don’t ignore it.

          When your ability to reason and consider things rationally becomes impaired, do not poo poo the problem away and think it isn’t worthy of attention. Seek medical help.

          Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

          Final Thoughts

          Loneliness and a sense of feeling lost can in many ways be extremely painful and difficult to deal with at best. However, these feelings can also serve as a catalyst for change in our lives if we acknowledge them and act.

          Above anything, cherish your mental well being and don’t underestimate its worth. Seek professional guidance if you’re unable to distinguish between a sense of freedom for yourself and a sense of despair.

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          Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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