I'm sipping instant coffee in the kitchen of my relatives in Toronto. My relatives are my uncle and my aunt, both genetically related to me, since my aunt is my mother's sister, and my uncle is my father's brother. Since they couldn't have children of their own, they adopted two kids in Mexico who have since grown up and left the nest.

I begun writing this log without an agenda, but the agenda has set itself: family and genes. I will knit this story with another thread which I've wanted to use since a long time ago: I'm tired about writing about myself, so I will practice universal truisms, that is, things that I believe to be true not only to myself but for others, so instead of writing I I will write we.

When we first leave the family home to venture out to the real world we often come to live with roommates, seemingly out of financial necessity, but I suspect that even with a comfortable budget most of us would prefer it this way. It's quite a leap to go from the family home to independent living, so your roommates become something of a substitute family.

If you come from a home were parents were absent, it may even feel like your roommate family is more real than your birth family. If your family dispersed during the weekends to each do whatever they wanted, but then you hang out with your roommates during the weekend, it feels as if your real tribe are the people you live with.

We are told that our genes are responsible for us liking people related to us, and if you set yourself in an imaginary situation--say, you are meeting a cousin for the first time, and compare it against meeting the friend of a friend for the first time, you might believe that you are more likely to hit it off with your cousin rather than with your second degree friend.

We suspect attention from non-family strangers. If you call your unknown cousin to hang out, it is less suspect than if you call your friend of a friend. The implicit narrative is that you aren't able to be selfless if you are not among your family, if you're seeking out a friend of a friend you will want something from them, be it sex, money, entertainment, etc.

There might be some truth to this observation. Imagine a tremendously boring person who just arrived to the city. In the first case, it's an unknown cousin, in the second case it's a friend of a friend. What scenario is more likely for you to invite them to hang out?

I will leave this log turned into an accidental essay as it is, it opens more questions than it gives answers. By intuition, we know that it shouldn't make any difference, we should be just as generous with strangers than we are with our family. Humankind is a big family of sorts. But, in practice--and I think this is more cultural than genetic--we favor extended unknown family over non-family. Close family members are a different kind of relationship.