In some parts of the world, it is increasingly popular to research the history of one’s own family. Why do people want to do this? Is it a positive or negative development?

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The study of family history or genealogy has gained enormous popularity, particularly after the coming of the internet. People are indulging themselves into this study for various reasons which I shall highlight in the following paragraphs. I believe that this trend has both positives and negatives.

The most popular reason for tracing the roots of one’s family history is that it 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 is the potential to trace living relatives. This then opens up the possibility of finding out about and regaining contact with long-lost cousins or relatives. The ability to trace living relatives can also be important in tracing an heir or beneficiary.

Finally, the most significant reason is that studying family history is an important tool in maintaining good physical health. Studying family history helps to predict risk for a range of health concerns and diseases, including heart disease, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. Once a person’s family medical history has been established, it is far easier for physicians to advise patients on how to keep healthy.

On the other hand, there are some disadvantages of tracking family history. Genealogy which begins as a curiosity, a hobby 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 squander too much time and money on it.

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