Author Topic: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?  (Read 2168 times)

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Violet Tulip

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background - I have a very, very uncommon last name. I'm 99.9% sure that I'm the only person on the planet with my exact first and last name. There are less than ten people with my last name in the US, and I'm closely related to most of them (there's a musician in the midwest we're not sure about, he and my father couldn't figure out how they're related but they're from the same area in Europe, so we think they're probably 5th cousins or something).

When I was searching for my last name on PubMed (I'm in research) I discovered that there's a person with the same last name (and first initial too!) publishing papers from a university in Brazil. Recently I also found a woman on Facebook with my last name (not the same first name as the journal article author), also in Brazil. I'm tempted to contact the person on Facebook (so they could see my name), and say something along the lines of "Hi, we have the same last name. I wonder if we're distantly related", but I'm not sure if that's too weird. Ehellions, what do you think? If you were the person in Brazil would you be weirded out?

MDefarge

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2010, 01:54:35 PM »
Go for it!  Worst case scenario they ignore the e-mail/don't reply.

I wouldn't be creeped out by receiving an e-mail like that either.

hobish

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2010, 01:55:42 PM »

I wouldn't be weirded out; i would think it was pretty cool, especially with such a rare name.

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Outdoor Girl

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2010, 02:10:40 PM »
Not weird at all unless your last name is Smith. :)

(Which yours isn't...)
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ShieldMaiden

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2010, 02:15:38 PM »
I say go for it too!

My brother found a FB group of just guys with his first and last name (let's say Cedric Brown)....so there's a Cedric Brown group out there and all the members have the same name.  It's pretty funny.

Kaypeep

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2010, 02:31:35 PM »
I think it's fine.
I recieved a FB friend request from a woman with the same name as me.  She lives back in my dad's homestate and there's a possibility we're related.  I just sent her some info on my dad's side to see if she can trace it to her family tree. 

magician5

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2010, 04:57:44 PM »
I'd expect that anyone, Brazilian or not, with a name like Violet Tulip ... well, they probably get a lot of questions about it.
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Onyx_TKD

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2010, 05:19:44 PM »
I think what you're planning is fine, but I'd be a little more detailed in your message. E.g. "Hi, I noticed we have the same last name. It's a pretty rare name here in the USA, so I was wondering whether we might be distantly related. The Tulips in my family come from the Netherlands; is your name from there, too?" I suggest this for two reasons: first, you're offering to start the exchange of information first by telling her where your last name came from, which I think is a little nicer; and second, I would find the direct question easier to respond to if I received that message than just the two statements.

Either way, I think you're ok as long as you don't do what someone did to me: sent a friend request with no message. I ended up messaging him to find out who he was and why he was contacting me, and I did not appreciate that (his name was actually another name related to mine, not exactly the same, which made it even less obvious what he wanted).

veryfluffy

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2010, 06:28:33 PM »
 I also have an extremely rare surname. Back when the internet was still pretty young -- about 11 years ago, I think -- I was contacted by email by someone from Brazil who'd seen my name in an industry news item, and wondered if we might be related. We compared the information we had about our families, and it seemed likely that his grandfather and my grandfather were brothers. His had emigrated to Brazil, while mine had stayed in Central European Country. He mailed me some photographs, and there was a definite resemblance to my father's side of the family. It seems there were eight brothers in the family, a family feud, and everyone dispersed. So far by googling I have turned up a number of people in Germany with the name. I'm guessing they are probably distant relations, but have never tried to contact anyone.

When I joined FB, I searched for my surname -- I only came up with one person, and emailed to say "It's a very unusual surname, I wonder if we might be related. Here's some of my family history." She didn't have anything going back that far, unfortunately, so we still don't know. My guess is that my grandfather and her great-grandfather might have been brothers, or maybe cousins.

In the end, though it's vaguely interesting to discover distant relatives and piece together family history, I found there isn't much more to it than that. My "cousin" in Brazil likes to keep in touch, but we don't really have anything in common. The girl in Germany is an FB "friend", but we don't actually have anything to say to each other. Ultimately, you're probably no more likely to want to know this person who has the same surname as you than any other random person. But that isn't a reason not to have a go anyway!
   

Violet Tulip

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2010, 07:12:00 PM »
Thanks for the input everyone. I'll use a variation of Onyx's suggestion when I send the message. It would be cool to find a relative, we know very little about my paternal grandfather's family.

My family's actually from an area that is now in Serbia, but was Yugoslavia when my grandparents left, and part of Hungary when my grandfather was born. I guess I'll say we're from the former Yugoslavia? Hopefully that won't be confusing.

MariaE

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2010, 02:43:17 AM »
Not weird. I have a very unusual last name too, and have been contacted more than once by people who wanted to know if we were related (I'm very easily found on google). I never felt it weird that they'd contact me.
 
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TootsNYC

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2010, 04:52:41 PM »
I say go for it too!

My brother found a FB group of just guys with his first and last name (let's say Cedric Brown)....so there's a Cedric Brown group out there and all the members have the same name.  It's pretty funny.


There was once a "Bob Jones" reunion here in NYC.

I think the vast majority of people would think it was fine. Especially, actually, through Facebook, because it's sensible to see how they'd pop up on your radar screen, and if they wanted to, they *could* block you if you turned out weird or skeevy.

And I agree w/Onyx's tactics and reasoning. Start the info exchange.

IrishGenes

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Re: Contacting a stranger. Is this too weird? If not, how do I phrase it?
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2010, 04:10:10 PM »
Violet, have you heard back from this person yet?  Just curious!  :)
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