Too Much Virtual Friend Making .NL


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I’ll be posting at Core77 this year, starting with this observation about some of my favorite people and their addiction AND repulsion to social media:

In her annual Christmas Message, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands warned of the dangers of too much virtual friend making. She encouraged people to put down their phones and laptops and re-establish physical connections. “We tend to look the other way and close our eyes and ears to what’s going on around us. Nowadays even our neighbors are strangers,” said the Queen. Real, not virtual friendships are needed to create a feeling of solidarity and to express compassion.


Image Courtesy of The Queen in Her Golden Carriage

All of this from a culture that seems to be one of the most socially connected on earth. More than half of the country’s population, over 9 MM people, have a profile on popular social network, The Dutch are the most prolific bloggers in Europe, with 15% of internet users taking part in this activity. Habbo Hotel, a Dutch-created social network for kids, is taken so seriously that cops have attempted to arrest thieving teenagers for stealing virtual furniture.

While Dutch-based commentary on the Queen’s message was negative (referring to her as a Luddite, suggesting that she lives in a Golden Cage, and other un-translatable name-calling) a Rotterdam-based media lab had already turned her pronouncement into an app. Moddr launched the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine last year (via TechCrunch). Just give the app your social network names and passwords, and it will purge your presence on Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites. In late breaking news via the company’s website, Facebook just banned the service, but that may not stop an emerging trend of rampant virtual anti-social behavior. All of this designed by the Dutch to make you wonder – is all of this social networking a force for good, or are we hiding behind our screens?