Twitter and My “Almost Cousin”


August 26, 2011


You know it when you feel it with another person.  You sense the immediate connection and feel like you have known the person forever.  And, hopefully you notice that the other person feels the same way.  Of course that can happen in romantic situations but more often, it happens in those chance meetings with individuals that become our life-long friends.

Since becoming involved in social media, blogging and Twitter have brought several people into my life that I felt this chemistry with.  One is Dwane Lay.

We’re both HR professionals.

We both live in St. Louis.

We both blog and speak at conferences.

We like many of the same things and the same people.

Dwane & Trish- I talk, he listens.

Like any good friends, you try to be there in times of need.  Dwane was kind enough to call me this week to check in after my aunt passed away.  I thanked him for calling and shared some of the details with him.  Details that included that I’ll be heading to a small town in southern Missouri on Saturday for her burial at the family cemetery.  When I said the name of the town, he immediately responded that he knows the town.  In fact, his mother’s entire family is from the next town over and have strong connections to the town I mentioned.

My mind was racing.

Do our families know each other?  What is the connection?  Even better, are we somehow related?

As it turns out, we are not related.  However, we do have families that shared connections that go back several generations.  In a small farming community it would be virtually impossible for our families paths not to collide.  We quickly agreed that we needed to call our mothers to find out how the families connect.

I think my mom getting a call out of the blue that sounded something like, “Mom! My friend Dwane just told me his whole family is from Patterson/ Piedmont and do you know them and do you remember them and do you have any stories about them and are we related and what if we are! Wow that would be cool and do you think you can tell me all about it oh and are you in the middle of cooking dinner? forget that this is BIG news mom, don’t you think? and can you believe I met him on Twitter????”  I was talking so fast it was one long, run-on sentence and my poor mom was just trying to figure out if it was me or my sister calling.  I can’t blame her for being caught off guard.

As she slowed me down and we went through each of my questions I quickly learned that the families knew each other.  In fact, she had gone to school with Dwane’s uncle her entire life and even dated him for a brief time.  I learned that my aunt who had passed knew his aunt and were likely in the same grade.  I learned that my mom even remembered Dwane’s mom as the baby of her family.

Small world.

I called Dwane back, quite excited with the information I was armed with.  He was excited too with his own stories of further connection.

When we finally hung up after realizing we could have almost been cousins, it was as if we already were.

So, when people ask me why I like networking on social media sites, I can add “because it helps me find/ make my family”, that will be true.  Life is short and the opportunity to make connections with those people we can trust are rare.  I’m thankful that I’ve been open to networking because it has enriched my life in so many ways.

And brought me my “almost cousin”, Dwane.

Thanks Twitter.

**To hear Dwane’s side of our story, click through to his post “The Family We Choose”


  • What a great story Trish! And how cool to have Dwane as an almost cousin…and he to have you as one too!

    I can go one better. A couple of months ago my partner’s family had a get together…its a branch of the family that’s fairly widely spread around the UK and they have these reunions every few years. As we’ve never got married there are a whole host of distant cousins and relatives of hers that I’ve never met and at these reunions I usually get to meet some for the first time.

    For the meet a few weeks ago a cousin that she hadn’t seen for over 20 years was going to be there. I read the e-mail from her uncle who was organising and he was talking about this cousin and what she was up to. Seems she’s now a published author and is working on a new project…and while I’m reading this I’m thinking ‘this sounds very much like an author called Lynne who I randomly follow on Twitter. We’ve only swapped messages a few times but we do notice each others tweets’.

    You can guess the rest! A quick DM later and I find that the author I speak to on Twitter is indeed the cousin that my OH hasn’t seen for 20 years!

    And as with any other IRL meeting of a twitter buddy we hit it off instantly didn’t stop talking all afternoon about social media!!

  • Too cool! I also have met several people I now call good friends – all over the US – via Twitter / blogosphere! It was THIS blog post ( I shared it with my ‘readers’ (are there really ANY?!) at (sorry for all the links – but I think it is so cool!) she sent a nice note thanking me and from there things just took off. We have expanded each others’ circles in person and via twitter. She recently brought her daughter cross country and stayed in my home (It’s an honor, cause I think she is a celebrity!) wow.

    Lots of people (ones I know, anyway) talk about the ‘creepy’ factor in social media, stalkers and the like… but I am so grateful for the many great relationships that have come out of ‘stealing’ one blog post!

    As I look back I can see that it’s been 6 years since that first connection. I am beyond honored. Thanks to social media.

    (PS. sorry about your aunt)

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Dwane & Trish- I talk, he listens.
Dwane & Trish- I talk, he listens.
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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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