I'm from a fairly large extended family. Although I only have two siblings and eleven first cousins, my mother (whose parents were each one of eight) had over fifty first cousins when we once tried to count them. And I know of lot of their children (my second cousins) and my kids know some of their kids. (That makes them third cousins, I think.) For the Ball & Chain (an only child from a small family) it's a bit overwhelming, and I'm constantly having to draw him Venn diagrams to explain relationships.
And then comes along Facebook. My mother's cousins (including the mother of my second cousin Trish @ Mum's Gone To) are all on there, although my mum's still digging her heels in and refusing to understand "why people want to tell each other what they had for dinner". Me, I think it's great. I can see FB photos of my second cousin who's moved to Cyprus with his wife and little boy. A decade ago I would probably only see him every ten years, and probably at family funerals at that. I know more about my mother's family than she does now - and I'm not even in the same country.
It'll be really interesting to see how social networking changes how families grow in the future. I would love to think that my kids and their third cousins manage to stay in touch, although explaining the relationships to each other will get a little more complicated.
It'll also be interesting to see what happens to photo albums. Since many people are sharing photos digitally these days (whether you're on FB or not), I have a feeling that we just won't bother to print them off. More people see my photos now than if I had them neatly arranged in a photo album.
What do you think?