In some parts of the world there is an increasing number of people try to find out the history of their families. Why? Is this trend a positive or negative development?
The study of family history or genealogy has become very popular especially after the coming of the internet. People are indulging into this study for various reasons which I shall highlight in the following paragraphs. I believe that it is largely a positive development although there are some disadvantages also.
The most popular reason for studying the family history is that people want to know their roots. Besides honoring the significance of one’s ancestors, studying one’s family’s genealogy can just be plain fascinating. It is considered by most to be the fastest-growing hobby in North America, with many surveys and media sources proclaiming that it has surpassed quilting, stamp collecting and even gardening in popularity. Another reason for studying family history is the potential to trace living relatives. This then opens up the possibility of finding out about and connecting with long-lost cousins or relatives. The ability to trace living relatives can also be important in tracing an heir or beneficiary.
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages of tracking family history. Genealogy begins as a curiosity which becomes a hobby and then may become an obsession. Then people waste too much time and money on it. One should not forget that it is the present which influences the future more and not the past. Often knowledge of family history is disastrous leading people to keep old enmities alive. It may also reveal unpleasant facts that one would regret knowing.
In conclusion, it can be said that there are many motivations for studying family history, from developing a sense of belonging to maintaining good health. However, one should not develop an obsession for it and waste too much time and money on it.