Even though I'm in the thick of it here in the Silicon Valley, I feel like I'm dealing with some of the same issues.
Although all of my direct family and most of my indirect family grew up around here, they have all moved elsewhere. (...with the exception of my brother. I haven't seen him in a year, even though he lives fifteen minutes away from me.) My family and past are largely cut off from me, though we all communicate through e-mail and occasionally by phone. Both can be filtered or screened...
I got a call from my brother last night; I picked up great seats to see Penn & Teller and figured it would be appropriate to get him one for his birthday. He put a lot of pressure on me to visit my mother (who has Parkinson's) in San Diego for Christmas, though my life (and Iceblink) is up here and we have already made plans to spend the day with her parents, who live locally.
In my case, I feel like I have an excuse. I didn't go anywhere, everyone else did. (My mother moved away because she met someone on the Internet!) Meanwhile, I live in a land I know well, but largely a land of strangers... refugees from around the world who found their way here because they have the skills that willmake them succeed. I don't want to have to work and live amongst all these strangers, though. One day, not too far off in the future, I'll be somewhere else too... hardly accessible to anyone, except via the Internet.
That's the thing about the Silicon Valley. There is no community... but on the other hand, there is no community. I claim to hate this fact, but I'm perfectly content to come home and try to make a new kind of community on the web.
I think I do want real life community, though... I just want it to be more deliberate and intentional... I want to use the Internet as a way to make it happen.
I guess it is to be expected that communities of our own choosing would succeed at the expense of others. Perhaps there is a great Darwinian experiment going on here. The end result, of course, is that old, outdated communities will either adapt or start dropping like flies. In the future, I think all successful communities will also be online, at least partially.
So, do you want a family that will somehow stick together despite it all? Better start designing them a an online community...