Posts from 2020: https://wanderingtrees.com/2020/

DNA and Genealogy

This year started off where last year ended. I had my own Big Y results back (before a human review) and tried to make sense of those results and the new FTDNA block tree. I had my MTDNA results back with the deepest testing I could do and tried to relate that information to time, place and my own genealogy. I’d also gathered a lot of information on Elmers and Elmores circa 1600 in Essex as a survey of possible Elmer and Elmore families for Edward Elmer (there were a lot of them).

Fresh off tying up some of my own DNA testing wants, I also ordered tests for my Thompson cousins in Indiana (the actual descendants of Levi Thompson) and a Big Y test for one of our DF95 men from Denmark. In the early months, I was able to post about the progress the DF95 Baker clan made in Big Y testing branches on the non-458.2 side of the house and I was able to post some conversations and research on R-ZP125 (a brother branch to my own).

Disengaging in Context

I may have mentioned before that I left a lot of social media behind. I was never really engaged in Twitter and I found that most of my time on Facebook was spent trolling strangers, and then acquaintances and eventually people I like and admire. Outside of a few instances of genuine communication, I was spending time angry or making other people angry and being manipulated as a guinea pig in social/emotional studies and by misinformation campaigns.

I realized that I was scrolling through my feed looking for people to hurt and people were scrolling through their feeds looking to hurt me. These “people” were my friends and loved ones and the dark path I was on was very clear. I posted some red flags about what I saw happening to me and to others, got the flurry of negative attacks I expected, and…didn’t comment.

It was hard. Too hard. Eye-openingly hard not to engage. I took it as the starting gun for change and slowly, one step at a time, buggered off.

I don’t remember exactly when I dropped it off my desktop it seems like it’s been three or four years. It took a bit longer to remove it from my phone as it was entwined with messages, but I didn’t know how to keep it from notifying me of Facebook activities meant to suck me back in through messenger so I had to quit it and any product related to it.

The withdrawal from communications with my DNA groups begins there. Once you see yourself trolling and don’t like what you’re becoming, you start to see it in other places. Do I need to comment on this email forum? Am I adding value or knowledge or even asking a question or am I trolling people in slow motion? Are they serious about what they’re saying, are they educating me or are they just trolling me for the lulz?

I had to pull back, reassess, and find some new direction. I eventually decided to go back to school.

Covid 19 and Life

Flash forward to 2020 and In the process of wrapping up my bachelor’s degree and working full time as an IT person with a family and biting off some large home improvement projects, I had become even more withdrawn from my genealogy projects and from writing and communicating in general. I was clustering my interests and my correspondence during breaks in classes rather than picking at them all year long.

Then of course the pandemic really got rolling here in Michigan and ironically, as IT staff for a college, I began working more hours. We were desperately trying to get all these paper processes and systems that rely on buildings and local networks online and remotely available for staffers and teachers who were now all remote workers with all remote students. Many students and staff didn’t have access to the internet from home or computers to use for newly minted online courses.

I have been LUCKY to remain employed through this pandemic, I see what has happened to friends and neighbors, but by no means have I been able to kick back and take things slow. I find myself here at year-end, officially on paid leave but having worked every day but Christmas…safe…warm and isolated (all things to be thankful for) but still working.

I did have time to myself between my own schooling and working for a school and getting my kids through remote school, but much of that has been devoted to home improvement projects. When you work at home, you now can teleport directly into replacing a kitchen countertop at 5pm and finish placing it in time to get a few hours of sleep before the 1 a.m. calls about whatever is happening to the database server.

In this lockdown, I’ve still somehow managed to injure myself, bulging a disc in my neck and paralyzing my left arm and then while my arm was useless, falling in my own house and breaking my leg (pro tip, paralyzed arm is not going to catch you when you fall).

My process of withdrawal which started with abandoning my Facebook accounts several years ago has become real near-total isolation that didn’t lend itself to contemplation and deep thought, but somehow became a more frantic lifestyle of work, stress, schoolwork, fear, injury, and stomach ulcers. As weird as it’s been, I’m still glad for the lack of social media feedback looping in my life, it could have been worse.

Passive Participation

I advocate for people being involved in Y DNA Haplogroup projects at Family Tree DNA and taking part in any haplogroup projects you happen to fall into along with any surname group or regional projects you can get.

There is a lot to be gained from discussions in the groups at FTDNA or on social media and forums or in other online group discussion boards. There are usually experts who can help and people who are not experts but who are on the path and have experience which can be valuable in navigating the world of DNA testing.

Having said that, I have to also say that I haven’t been an active participant in the broader communities for several years now. I haven’t been engaged in the chatter in any of the larger discussions going on in R1b, U106 or Z18 for a while.

I also haven’t been actively recruiting R-DF95 testers for several years outside of my own Elmer/Elmore group (which gets the bulk of my attention) and a few minor attempts to get in touch with some of the better Elmer Y STR matches and a group of German Y STR matches I pick up better than the other Elmers. I see them, but I feel like they’re under-represented in Big Y testing. The response rate is really low though and I don’t feel the urge to put too much effort there.

I’ve made myself content this year to hear what others are thinking when they want to tell me and help out when I’ve been asked and to see some of the seeds planted a long time ago bear fruit.

I’ve withdrawn quite a bit for a lot of different reasons but I’m still filled with wonder about the possibilities in DNA testing and looking forward to new discoveries as they filter in.

Oh and I did manage to graduate, just a few days ago, so I am now qualified to be a bachelor. I’ll have to let the wife and kids know.