Ancestry DNA tests are fun. Unfortunately, mine revealed nothing interesting or exciting. (Dang I was hoping to be part shark!) It also thwarted my plan of winning the lottery and buying everyone in Appalachia a DNA test to prove they’re not 50% Irish or 1/16th Native American, as they say they are. (And then parents brainwash their children to say/think this lie as well.)
It’s not that I have a problem with either group. On the contrary. I have a problem with people talking with an Irish accent on a regular basis when they’ve never even visited their “homeland.” We’re all mutts! Really, we are! And there’s nothing wrong with being a little of this and a little of that. Just please stop trying to act like you’re better than everyone because you’re your version of purebred. Moreover, this “I’m so Irish” act may fly here among other mutts, but how ashamed of your behavior would a real Irishmen make you feel? S/he’d humble you in no time!
Anywho, back to how my plan was thwarted. I received my results today, and in them I discovered that these companies are lumping together Britain, Ireland, and Scotland. (I used 23andMe, but Ancestry.com does the same thing.)
Ancestry.com even labels it in your report as “Irish” and then defines Ireland as:
As we speak, they’re specifically running a marketing campaign with four-leaf clovers: “Kiss me I’m 63% Irish. Discover what you’re made of. Save 10% on AncestryDNA this St. Patrick’s Day.” (Seems a little misleading, I’d say.)
So now when you say you’re Irish and you’ve “even verified it with a DNA test!”, I still don’t entirely believe you. I do believe that we’re all a little bit of something, and we can all identify with whatever we want, and we’re free to be whoever we want to be. Just don’t act like you’re in some way better than everyone else because you strongly identify with something. This reminds me of grade school and everyone saying, “My heritage is German, French, blahblahblah, I’m related to a princess, what’s yours?” And I’d be all like, “Yeah, ummm… I’m Appalachian,” but what I wanted to say was, “Well I think my Grandma has some German heritage, but I’m a bastard child so I don’t really know.” Of course eight-year-old me would never actually say the latter part, but I was certainly thinking it and crawling into a hole inside my mind to escape my shame. (Oh the random societal shames we impose on this world…)
So, yeah, this minor and silly pet peeve of mine does go a bit deeper, but I know I’m not the only one who is annoyed by this strong feeling of false heritage Americans have. Because unless you’ve spent some time in whatever country you say you’re from (and maybe with whatever distant relative you may have there), I honestly don’t care. We’re all just humans trying to figure out who we are. If you want to be Irish proud, go for it. But if you’re going to, at least visit Ireland, familiarize yourself with the history of your people, and don’t use it as a tool for gloating, use it as a tool for discovery.
Speaking of discovering who we are, one last comment on DNA testing: it’s interesting in discovering a bit of our own histories, but it’s not going to tell you who you are. Discovering who you are is a lifelong journey. And if you’re focused on your history, I recommend a good old-fashioned family tree. You’ll learn more of your actual history that way. (DNA ancestry test results compare your DNA to other people who have bought the kits, not everyone on the planet–so it’s not going to give you a full picture.)
Overall, though, I still think it’s interesting, and I do hope that you all find some secret underlying and exciting thing about yourself that you never knew before. It’ll make for a great conversation piece!
Here’s my (totally uninteresting) conversation piece:
And some other links/reading: