In The Netherlands, Everything Is Anticipated On.

Forget about bicycles, tulips and windmills. What really characterizes the Netherlands is much more life-enriching. It comes down to this; Dutch authorities have a plan for pretty much everything.

Days ago, I read a news message saying that a Wolf had been seen in a natural area in the east of the country. A big thing for an urbanized country without any scary animals in the wild. The fact that the female beast was caught on camera (in a forest?) in the vicinity of cubs meant that these furry friends weren’t planning to retreat back into Germany.

No, they are intending to stay. And thereby it is confirmed that the Wolf is officially reintroduced to the Netherlands, after decades of absence. A small victory for nature. Bummer for the folks living in nearby urbanized areas. Which, in the Netherlands, is pretty much everywhere. For a country with such little wilderness, the arrival of a Wolf on the loose, induces quite some fear.

But, no worries. The Dutch government had already foreseen the expansion of family Wolf. And upon this discovery, an officially named ‘Wolf action plan’ has been initialized. This is a book-like protocol, worked out into detail, regarding the approach towards the newcomers.

You have to try and imagine that different authorities, the mayor, police and various experts have had numerous meetings to develop a work of countless pages, just to anticipate on the birth of two cute wolf cubs.

Essence is, that Dutch people always have a plan. For everything. Months or years ahead of a situation. In summer, there is a ‘heat action plan’, developed by various specialized institutions. This plan is immediately implemented whenever the temperature rises above a certain level.

It advises that people with overweight, elder people, the weak and the sick, should be extra careful during this type of weather. Likewise it recommends that citizens should not underestimate the strength of sunlight and drink enough water. How generous. Similar to the Wolf issue, a selection of smart minds have been cracking their brains in order to come up with valuable advise.

I think there are only few other countries better prepared for any event than the Netherlands. Downside is that it kills spontaneity. It’s a bit patronizing too. Upside is that, as a citizen, you don’t have to worry about anything. Everything is anticipated on.

If I may take it a little further; might there be the unfortunate case of a meteorite on crash course with the Netherlands, the local authorities will implement a ‘meteor action plan’, empirically founded by appointed experts. As a matter of fact, I think the authorities already have such a protocol. The Netherlands is a sanctuary. When you follow the steps as described in the plan, you’ll surely be safe from harm.

While writing this, more exciting news came from the Netherlands. This time a bit more gritty though. Of a sudden, the parliament stated unanimously that the Dutch aren’t prepared for death. The statistical institution (CBS) had revealed that people are too avoidant regarding their final hour.

Now, this institution was already a renowned research facility, but these results are really mind-blowing. They calculated somehow that people don’t like to acknowledge that their life isn’t infinitive.

Furthermore they concluded that the Dutch are therefore emotionally and financially underprepared to be burried or cremated.

To stimulate citizens, authorities launched an extensive campaign to inform them that their lives are not infinitive. A governmental webpage will guide you through the process, containing the necessary information, tips and tricks on how to die responsibly.

On the somewhat formal looking webpage (the same interface is used for tax inquiries), the government has collected all information considered to be necessary for a carefree end of life, for it would be a pity to do all the paperwork in your last hour..

So after filling out a somewhat dull questionnaire, an algorithm will tell you what to do. The system reminds you to take into account that death has some emotional aspects too.

The Netherlands proves again that it can (and will) prepare you for pretty much anything.

© Stefan Hoekstra/The Social Writer, 2019. Unauthorized use/and or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full name and clear credit is given to Stefan Hoekstra and The Social Writer with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

On Demand

In living rooms all around the world, there has been a remarkable change in recent years. Already for a long period of time, people gather around the TV screen in order to have a cozy evening before bed time. A film on DVD or videotape, or less known; a Blue Ray might be hired from the local cinema store, possibly from the ‘comedy’ section. Once a film was chosen and paid for, there was no way back. Popcorn or crisps are bought, completed with a bottle of coke or some beers. But on the vast majority of evenings, the preference is to passively take in whatever is scheduled by a limited amount of TV channels. In this, hides a certain laziness and the absence of pressure to entirely follow the TV program. You can chat about the foregoing day and not be afraid to miss out on something. By far, this way of enjoying before bed time leisure, has my favour.

Streaming services already exist for a longer period of time. Yet, they only became increasingly popular in recent years. So of course, smart on-demand distributors have seen this too, and simplified the acquiring process. And doing so, they drastically changed the entire living room experience.

It goes like this (and I use an average family as an example). Generally, when visiting family for an evening, the TV is already turned on. Nothing special, just some trivial programmes running on the background while discussing some recent life events. But at a certain point, somewhere between 8 or 9 PM and briefly out of interesting topics to discuss, the TV screen takes its chance and starts to regain attention of those present in the room. By then, the chatter has lessened and the room is filled with the sounds, pounding from the TVs’ speakers. Nowadays’ digital receivers are good for some 250 channels, of which usually 220 ones are totally neglected. The preferred thirty are the traditional ones, already available since the nineties. They have the unthankful task to entertain the spoilt audience.

Thus, it is time for a radical intervention by whoever has control of the remote control. Following shortly, there is a spine chilling silence, as the master of the remote control skips to channel 200 and a selection menu comes into view. It displays the unmistakable red colour of a certain streaming provider, offering thousands of programmes and films.

Subsequently, the gathered family members start to fire suggestions at the remote control master, regarding the film choice. Generally, this part of the process is very time consuming. This has likely to do with the fact that a movie is a time investment, and therefore should be guaranteed to have grand entertaining value.

But ironically, picking the movie takes averagely as long as a movie itself. Moreover, choosing a film, on the worst of watching days, might cause an ongoing 2 hours cinema-worthy arguing experience, leaving everyone exhausted. When later, a film has ultimately been selected, another danger is lurking. As the selected movie has been carefully chosen, the possibility of it being somewhat mediocre, is indigestible for the demanding crowd. And so, the omnipresence of choice often results into the remote control master returning to the main menu to start the choosing process all over again.

© Stefan Hoekstra/The Social Writer, 2019. Unauthorized use/and or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full name and clear credit is given to Stefan Hoekstra and The Social Writer with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

An Introduction

Hi there! Glad you found your way to the site. I’m Stefan, the establisher and author of The Social Writer. In this introduction, I will give a small impression of me as a person, followed by some history of the site. I started to exist back in 1991, in a mid sized town called Groningen, located in the northern part of The Netherlands. As a child, I was quite privileged to grow up in Haren, a gorgeous settlement known for its wealthy inhabitants, lush green parks and impressive villas and grand mansions. I was certainly very lucky to spend my childhood there, and I believe that the beauty and calmness of that town has instilled me with lots of hope ever since. It surely had its share in my strong idealistic endeavours I embrace today. We were a middle class family that didn’t face many financial difficulties. It was in the small town of Haren that I was confronted for the first time with (financial) inequality, subcultures, status roles and our market based consumer society, experiencing all of the challenges and difficulties inherent to these phenomena.

On the contrary, I have experienced many dark and bitter times which left deep carvings on the shape of my personality. Around the age of twenty, my family fell apart. And all the way from early childhood, via adolescence, eventually reaching adulthood, an abundance of misery battered upon me. To a certain degree however, I managed to also have a taste of the sublimity that life has to offer, and that’s primarily thanks to a thing called travel.

But the real revelation began when I found a possibility to untie myself from the confinement of my past and grabbed the opportunity to study something close to my heart: Social Work. Simply helping others. Next to its main curriculum consisting of psychology and sociology, I was taught on how to reflect upon my emotions. It meant the starting point of a long and probably neverending internal search for answers, to bring clarity about the ways and means of my scarred self.

Now, in 2020, some years have passed since the graduation, but the enormous interest for humanities remained with me, and is thoroughly practised by means of reading, meditating, reflecting and later on: writing. It’s nothing more than my thoughts converted into words. Some of my favourite books include: 1984 by George Orwell and The Course Of Love by Alain De Botton, as well as many other works on ancient philosophy and psychodynamics, like those of Irvin Yalom.

The Social Writer is simply a coalescence of the words Social Work and Writer. In the beginning, writing went a little too passionate, I would say, since it often resulted in being knocked out behind my writing desk at 3 AM with red eyes because of a coffee overdose: Irony wants that writing and sociability can hardly coexist.

Nevertheless, I’ve found that we live in rather interesting times. So I intended to write about anything I assumed to be noteworthy. Which is to say, quite a lot. So I refocused towards specific topics, roughly revolving around stories on humanity and society. After a year of writing without an audience, my lovely girlfriend remarked that keeping these notes locked in my computer until eternity, would be quite senseless. And she was right. An outlet needed to be found. Thus, in the summer of 2019, The Social Writer was launched.

Next to this, the difference between a blog and this page is roughly that a blogger is expected to be almost continuously active, and posting regularly to keep its followers’ attention. But for me, under such pressure, no ideas of sensible value would flow from my mind onto the writing pad.

I therefore think it’s safe to say that the frequency of new additions to the page ought not to exceed once, perhaps twice a month, in order to preserve its originality and inspiration. (And to not annoy the audience too much.)

At last, beware that some writings are drenched in sarcasm and irony, while others may have a more earnest approach. Yet they’re all genuine and somehow based upon what I’ve read or experienced in real life. In most of the Social Writers’ stories, I pursue to take its reader (you) on a small, perspective changing journey.

Stefan, 23-04-2020.

In Belgrade, 2019.