Dear Joe and Namrita and Kenneth,
You've perfectly articulated my own "weirdness." Like you, I come from large families scattered around the world. My Ancestry "shared DNA" has bajillion distant relatives with trace amounts in common. Unfortunately, the four people with supposedly second and third cousin connection have not replied to my (twice) repeated requests for information. Ditto on this site and J-Roots and Facebook Messenger posts. However, I did make two major scores with people who responded. One gave access to his extensive research about my great-grandfather's family, but our personal communication went nowhere. Another connection was made with a tentative Facebook private message that was almost instantaneously acknowledged. Although this very distant cousin in St. Peterburg couldn't provide any information about his grandfather, he and I formed a bond with frequent email correspondence. I write in English and he responds in Russian -- sometimes relying on Google Translate to decipher my expressions.
Like Joe wrote, in spite of the maudlin Ancestry.com and 23andMe commercials, I don't think most people are interested in ancient family history. Certainly no one in my immediate family. Plus Soviet families carry a lot of trauma and secrets. But interestingly, the Russian-language J-Roots has A LOT of researchers looking for their families. It's also a goldmine of Jewish wedding, birth, and some death registries, where I can make my way through the gorgeous calligraphy with my third-grade Soviet education. One of the most fascinating and rewarding discoveries were Kiev city directories from the early 1900s. If reading the proverbial phone is your idea of excitement, you'll find a snapshot of a city in a superbly organized publication.