By Jason Thompson | United States
“Politics makes for strange bedfellows”
It’s a classic idiom which, over the years, has often held to be very accurate. This is especially true in an accelerated world defined by social media and technological progress. The world has become smaller – even while becoming infinitely more complex.
But, what happens when politics and social media – two pillars of everyday life in the modern age which threaten to tear society apart – introduces us to relationships we didn’t even know that we had?
This is the story about how networking and social media outreach in the online libertarian community introduced me to a long lost cousin, adopted at birth. For clarification, my mother’s maiden name is Beavers – hence, the title of this piece.
It’s a feel good story.
A fluff piece, if you will.
Considering the toxic nature of 21st century political culture, maybe we, as a society, need more of these kinds of stories.
On Facebook, there’s a community for every political stance you could imagine and, if you’ve ever participated in any discussions on libertarian forums, you are well aware of the infighting that occurs within our ranks. It’s enough to make someone hang their head in defeat and give up, purely out of frustration. What good could possibly come from arguing with strangers over obscure philosophical and political questions?
As it turns out, more good than bad, at least for this prospective cat-herder.
Lately, I have decided to try my hand at writing. Considering that I spend a lot of time arguing with strangers online, I figured that I may as well try to do it in a more structured, professional manner. So, off to the races I went.
I started posting articles, in addition to samples of my thoughts and writing, on pages like “The New Libertarian.” Surprisingly, people seemed to respond to what I was writing and the questions I was posing. I decided that this would be an opportune time to start networking and reaching out to my fellows in the online liberty movement, and thus began a flurry of friend requests on my part. Over time, I was trying to build a brand.
Marketing, for sure.
A hint of narcissism and delusions of grandeur? Possibly.
I sent tons of requests to strangers across the internet, never thinking that I would inadvertently request someone who shared a peculiar bond with myself. As I was getting grain with my father for our sheep and cattle, I received a message from one of those strangers:
“Hey dude, are we related?”
I sat in the truck and scratched my head. I have an extensive family in the mid-Atlantic, but this was bizarre. This guy must be crazy, I thought. He’s just some random person I friend requested because he interacted with my posts. I even thought it could be a scam. I was wrong.
As fate would have it, I had sent a friend request to my first cousin. I was in awe. Excited. It affirmed my faith in a higher power. It was pure happenstance, but it gets even weirder.
We had met before – several times, in fact. It had been 20 years since we had seen each other. Without going too much in to detail, there had been a custody issue between my uncle and his then wife when I was a child. My uncle and his wife had already had one child, Alicia. While they were in the separation process, they conceived another child.
Although Alicia came to live with my immediate family, the newborn baby was given up for adoption. Growing up, my grandfather often had parties at his house in Anne Arundel County, and that particular child would be there – albeit with his adopted parents. We were never allowed to tell him he was our cousin, even though he looked just like his sister and my grandfather.
When he got to be a certain age, his adopted parents stopped bringing him around. They didn’t want him to know that he wasn’t really theirs. The ruse worked, for a while.
And I forgot that he existed.
Flash forward to 2016, and tragedy struck. My former aunt – his mother – was killed in a dual homicide in Annapolis. Only then did my long lost cousin find out who his biological mother and father really were. I can only imagine how surreal that must have been.
I still did not even know he existed until I happened to friend request him.
As I type this, I still can’t wrap my head around what odds or unknown forces could have possibly led to me sending that request. It seems unbelievable.
They say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Apparently, that is also a very accurate statement. Despite being raised outside of my family, by people with presumably very different values and political beliefs, he turned out to be a libertarian!
Objection to authority and the status quo must run rampant in the genes he and I share. To be honest though, he could be a commie, and I would love him all the same.
Networking in the Liberty movement has introduced me to very many inspiring, talented, decent people. It has opened doors for me which I didn’t even. Know existed, but all of these new opportunities and friendships pale in comparison to the key thing which I gained.
I found my family.
Image Source NPS.gov