On being asked to share genomes

I got my DNA tested through 23andme. I thought long and hard about privacy and how giving someone else access to knowledge about my genome, but in the end I was just too darn curious. That’s the bane and the gift of humanity, isn’t it? I just crossed my fingers that they would abide by their privacy statement, paid the money, spit into a test tube, and mailed it off.

One of the things you get is a list of genetic cousins, along with whatever information they want to share. They don’t have to share anything, even their name, but they can optionally share family surnames and places their ancestors have lived. They can send you contact requests, which is cool. I’m interested in sharing genealogy information. But all the requests start off with something like:

“Would you please share genomes with me?”

Now, these people may be my relatives, but they’re often pretty distant ones. We might share a great-great-great-great-great grandparent, for instance. So the question comes off to me like a stranger coming up to me and very politely asking,

“Would you please show me your underpants?”

So my reply is:

“I’m not comfortable sharing my genome with you right now.”

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