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Family 2.0

October 28th, 2005 · 2 Comments

The week of the much-discussed Web 2.0 conference, earlier this month, we were on vacation with family. For me it was an intense time of realizing what that word means: Family.

Family is a simple word with complicated implications. For some relatives, the word may have different meanings, different sets of definitions, obligations and expectations. Family defines our last name and our location. It creates its own culture. It seems constant and comfortable.

Family is both liquid and solid. We all know our family. We can trust in the trunks of the tree. The people whose donated their DNA to us will never change. Their lives are written in time, inside us. No one can alter the past or remake memories. We had holidays together. The traditions we continued. The cousins we visited. The gifts we got from our grandparents. For me family means memories of New Mexican lizards and German Christmas cookies. Embroidered pillowcase keepsakes and fading photos stored in my closet. Games played with siblings on hot summer days and stories whispered on winter nights. Family means familiarity. It is what we have known. It is what we know, to the core of our being. It’s the place where we are ourselves, past and present together. It gives us heritage. It gives us home and hope.

Yet family is flexible. It is fluid. People die. People divorce. People marry. People are born. We move apart from each other or closer together, in space and in the heart. Look through a series of photographs in a family album and watch the faces change. Even if the cast of characters remains the same, we are not who we were yesterday. We’re older. Wiser, perhaps. Or not so wise. We change our hair. We change our clothes. We get new habits. We get new hearts.

Perhaps the title Family 2.0 isn’t quite accurate. I don’t want to imply that families need upgrades. That the Family 1.0 version lacked some features.

But like software, family is always changing. We deceive ourselves if we think it stays the same. We want that familiarity. We want that consistency. We want a place to call home for our heart.

Yet people change. And we have to be open to letting people be who they are, even if that is not who they were years ago. We have to be as flexible as our family. And we have to forgive. Family means we grow and change together.

Earlier this month, I realized that I don’t even know what family means. The relationships I had when I was young were painful for me. At this time, for a variety of reasons, I am not in close contact with many of the people in my family tree.

But I’m willing to learn a new definition of family. And I’m hopeful for Family 2.0 and whatever new versions appear. Even if that means I get upgraded too. 🙂

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 DrErnie // Oct 28, 2005 at 9:53 am

    Nice thoughts. I do like the meme, as it implies we do need to rethinking some of our *understanding* of family; like Web 2.0 is reinterpreting, or in many cases rediscovering, what the Web is. Very much like my “Capitalism 2.0” meme:


    I think in some ways Family 2.0 is analogous: we define Family in terms of what it gives away and empowers, rather than what it keeps and controls….

  • 2 hadashi // Nov 9, 2005 at 6:41 am

    thanks for this excellent coalescence of thoughts on family. it’s no small miracle, this building and maintaining of a family… having spent the last month in very intense family time, both with the one i was born into, and the one i’ve married into, i realise how blessed i am to have so many very tangible reasons to appreciate my Family 1.0. are the in-laws Family 1.2? i do know that the same care & love that Families Version 1 gave to us will feed the memories, traditions, and values we bring to Version 2. i think your words “flexible & fluid” are important… perhaps this Christmas will feature both German stollen, and Chinese steamed bao as we begin to build our own little Family 2.0.

    (posted on behalf of hadashi by Julie due to technical difficulties)

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